By Bianca Angelica D. Añago, Reporter

The Philippines reported 18,659 coronavirus infections on Friday, bringing the total to 2.45 million.

The Department of Health (DoH) did not report any deaths, citing technical issues while recoveries increased by 9,088 to 2.24 million.

There were 175,324 active cases, 88.1% of which were mild, 6.9% did not show symptoms, 1.5% were severe, 2.84% were moderate and 0.7% were critical.

The agency said 84 duplicates had been removed from the tally, 47 of which were reclassified as recoveries. One laboratory failed to submit data on Sept. 22.

Meanwhile, DoH cited a “rapid and large decline” in laboratory outputs for coronavirus results, resulting in a decline in infections nationally and in the capital region.

It was assessing whether cases had really gone down or was due to other factors, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire told an online news briefing.

She cited a decline in coronavirus testing outputs as of Sept. 21 in Metro Manila, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Davao Region, Soccsksargen and Caraga.

In Metro Manila, the number of tests done fell by 10.3% from a week earlier to 258,047, she said.

Also on Friday, an inter-agency task force included election officials and more healthcare workers in the group who may go out of their houses during the lockdown.

Researchers, workers and staff of Solidarity Trial vaccine teams were classified as health workers, presidential spokesman Herminio L. Roque, Jr. told an online news briefing. The task force also allowed eligible patients to leave their homes for clinical trials, except those in areas under a granular lockdown.

The body also changed the rules for the alert level system in the National Capital Region as it enters the second week into the pilot implementation of the alert level system.

Individual outdoor exercises in the capital will be allowed but only in residential areas. Gatherings for wakes, funerals, and inurnment of the remains of deceased coronavirus patients have also been allowed in all areas in the capital regardless of community quarantine status but limited to immediate family members.

The pilot implementation of the alert level system in the capital will end on Sept. 30 but if it is extended, all indoor and outdoor contact sports will be prohibited except those under a bubble-type setup and as approved by the local government.

Personal care establishments offering cosmetic services such as make-up, spas and reflexology will continue to be barred from operating.

The pick-up of food and essential items in areas under a granular lockdown will be allowed at designated collection points.