THE Department of Health reported 2,378 new coronavirus infections on Sunday, bringing the total to 189,601.

The death toll rose to 2,998 after 32 more patients died, while recoveries increased by 16,459 to 131,367, it said in a bulletin.

Metro Manila had the most number of new cases at 1,022, followed by Cavite with 132 cases, Laguna with 128, Rizal with 115 and Cebu with 96, the agency said.

The Philippines has the highest number of total and active cases in Southeast Asia.

Meanwhile, more than 250 overseas Filipino workers (OFW) from Uzbekistan arrived at the weekend amid a coronavirus pandemic that has sickened 23.4 million and killed more than 808,000 people worldwide, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

This brought the total beneficiaries of the government’s repatriation program to more than 145,000 since February, DFA said.

This was the first time a chartered flight was used to bring home 257 Filipinos from Uzbekistan, the agency said in a statement on Saturday night.

“To understand the importance of this flight is to be reminded of the difficult conditions under which this special flight was mounted,” Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Sarah Lo Y. Arriola said.

The Philippines does not have an embassy or honorary consulate in Uzbekistan, where there is also a total lockdown and commercial flights were prohibited, she said.

The department said it helped 9,505 overseas Filipinos (OFs) come home in the past week, majority of whom worked in the Middle East.

“The DFA flew home 7,787 OFs from the region through 25 special commercial repatriation flights and 3 DFA-chartered flights,” it said in a separate statement. It also brought home FIlipinos from Kenya, Egypt and Angola.

Meanwhile, the Senate labor committee will continue on Tuesday its inquiry on issues affecting OFWs during the pandemic. Senator Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva said the hearing would focus on government plans to reintegrate displaced workers and their job prospects in the Philippines.

“As the repatriation of our OFWs continue, reintegration strategies should be simultaneously implemented so they have alternative means of livelihood,” he said in a separate statement on Sunday.

Officials from the Inter-Agency Task Force, Department of Health and Department of Labor and Employment are expected to attend the hearing.

Lawmakers have pushed for an P820-million budget for DFA’s Assistance-to-Nationals fund under the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas and Charmaine A. Tadalan