THE PHILIPPINES was now at moderate risk from the coronavirus after a decline in infections, the Health department said on Monday.

Virus cases fell by 4% in the past two weeks versus a 27% increase three to four weeks ago, Alethea de Guzman, director of the Health department’s Epidemiology bureau, told a televised news briefing.

For the past week alone, the average daily coronavirus infections fell by 11% to 17,783 from a week earlier, she said.

Daily infections for 100,000 people dropped to 17.12 from 17.80 recorded three to four weeks ago, she added.

Ms. de Guzman said 67.83% of hospital beds for coronavirus patients had been used, while 75.58% of intensive care unit beds were occupied.

The Cordillera, Cagayan Valley, Ilocos, Bicol, Mimaropa, Caraga, Soccsksargen, Zamboanga Peninsula and Western Visayas regions were at high-risk from the coronavirus.

Metro Manila was now under a moderate risk level, she said, noting that cases in the region were “starting to slow down.”

At the same briefing, presidential spokesman Herminio L. Roque, Jr. said 43.93 million coronavirus vaccines had been given out as of Sept 26. More than 20.3 million people or 26.33% of adult Filipinos had been fully vaccinated, he added.

Meanwhile, teachers and school personnel participating in the pilot run of face-to-face classes must have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, Roger Masapol, a director at the Education department, told a separate news briefing.

The agency earlier said teachers and other school staff would not be required to be fully vaccinated, raising questions about the safety of the pilot run.

At the same briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire said the government had reversed the policy to ensure the safety of children.

The Education department earlier said 100 public schools and 20 private institutions in low-risk areas would participate in the pilot test.

Vaccine czar Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. earlier asked the government to start vaccinating children aged 12 to 17 by mid-October.

Seriously ill minors and children of health workers would be prioritized once President Rodrigo R. Duterte approves the proposal, he said.

The country’s drug regulator has approved the use of vaccines made by Pfizer, Inc. and Moderna, Inc. for children as young as 12 years. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza