THE DEPARTMENT of Health (DoH) reported 10,019 coronavirus infections on Thursday, bringing the total to 2.63 million.

The death toll rose to 38,937 after 109 more patients died, while recoveries increased by 7,425 to 2.48 million, it said in a bulletin.

There were 115,328 active cases, 77.1% of which were mild, 13.6% did not show symptoms, 2.7% were severe, 5.33% were moderate and 1.2% were critical.

The agency said 55 duplicates had been removed from the tally, 35 of which were reclassified as recoveries, while 56 recoveries were tagged as deaths. Four laboratories failed to submit data on Oct. 5.

Meanwhile, a group of health advocates urged the government to clarify its stand on the need for coronavirus booster shots.

“In doing so, the DoH will alleviate the plight and fears of those who have been vaccinated as early as March 2021 which include many of our health workers,” the Kilusang Kontra COVID said in a statement.

The Health department earlier said its proposed P104-billion budget for booster shots had been cut to just P45 billion.

The World Health Organization has been urging advanced countries to suspend a plan to give out booster shots until the end of the year to ensure supplies for poor countries.

“If we will take this stand to provide booster shots for our people, doses should already be factored into the vaccine requirements for the fourth quarter,” the group said.

The statement was signed by Anthony C. Leachon, a former pandemic official, and other health advocates.

Meanwhile, the government is considering the return of cinema and arcade operations in areas under Alert Level 3, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez told an online news briefing.

The government is also considering allowing personal care services to resume operations, which were barred in areas under Alert Level 4.

“Under Alert Level 4, personal care services that were given the approval to operate include barbershops, salons and nail care services,” Mr. Lopez said. “The included establishments are still very limited.”

Under the rules, establishments such as dine-in restaurants, personal care services, gyms and churches may operate at 30% capacity under Alert Level 4 as long as they have a safety seal from the government.

Metro Manila will be under Alert Level 4 until Oct. 15.

Several business groups earlier urged the government to allow the private sector to impose stricter requirements on unvaccinated employees and patrons, and decline unvaccinated job applicants.

DoH on Wednesday said this could lead to discrimination since most Filipinos have not been vaccinated either due to vaccine supply issues or medical reasons.

It said people should get vaccinated to protect themselves and their families against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Fully vaccinated people should continue to practice minimum health standards since they can still get infected and infect others with the virus, it added.

The private groups, which include the Bankers Association of the Philippines, Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, GoNegosyo and Investment House Association of the Philippines said the state and private sector should be able to restrict the activities of unvaccinated people “for the common good.”

The groups also asked companies to encourage employees to get vaccinated, while accommodating those who can’t get vaccinated for medical reasons in a way that won’t compromise the health and safety of other workers. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza and Revin Mikhael D. Ochave