THE DECLINE in coronavirus infections in the Philippines has slowed, according to health authorities, even as the country remained at low risk from the virus.

Infections have declined by 49% nationwide in the past two weeks, Alethea de Guzman, director of the Health department’s Epidemiology bureau, told an online news briefing on Tuesday.

The daily infection tally fell by 14% to 4,183 cases on Oct. 26 to Nov. 1 from a week earlier, compared with a 26% decline in the first few weeks of October and 35% by the end of the month, she said.

“We have seen that the decline in new cases has slowed down,” Ms. De Guzman said in Filipino. “It is still going down but the decline is slower than in the previous weeks.”

The decrease in infections in the capital region, which is also at low risk from the coronavirus, had also slowed, she said.

The daily infection tally in Metro Manila fell by 14% to 770 cases on Oct. 26 to Nov. 1 from a week earlier, compared with a 36% decline on Oct. 19 to 25.

If the trend continues, coronavirus infections might start increasing again, Ms. De Guzman said, adding that local governments should continue their contact-tracing efforts.

The Department of Health (DoH) reported 2,303 coronavirus infections on Tuesday, bringing the total to 2.8 million.

The death toll rose to 43,404 after 128 more patients died, while recoveries increased by 4,677 to 2.7 million, it said in a bulletin. 

There were 40,786 active cases, 71.2% of which were mild, 5.1% did not show symptoms, 7.5% were severe, 12.02% were moderate and 3.2% were critical.

DoH said 22 duplicates had been removed from the tally, 19 of which were reclassified as recoveries, while 106 recoveries were relisted as deaths. Eight laboratories failed to submit data on Oct. 31.

The agency said 46% of intensive care units in the Philippines were occupied, while the rate in Metro Manila was 40%.

Ms. De Guzman said the Cordillera and Cagayan Valley regions were still at moderate risk from the coronavirus.

Infections there have declined in the past two weeks, but their average daily attack rates were still above seven, which is considered high, she added.

Meanwhile, Metro Manila’s average daily attack rate fell to 5.97 for 100,000 people from Oct. 19 to Nov. 1 from 11.9 a week earlier, Ms. De Guzman said.

Business groups have been urging the Philippine government to further relax quarantines in Manila, the capital and nearby cities after a decline in its daily tally. 

Metro Manila is now under Alert Level 3, which allows 50% capacity for outdoor services and 30% capacity for indoor activities.

The government started enforcing granular lockdowns with five alert levels in the capital region after the country struggled to contain a fresh spike in infections triggered by a highly contagious Delta variant.

Meanwhile, the Philippines was set to take delivery of 2.7 million Sputnik V coronavirus vaccines from Russia on Tuesday, according to the presidential palace. 

The government had received more than 100 million vaccines doses as of Oct. 28, presidential spokesman Herminio L. Roque, Jr. told a televised news briefing on Tuesday.

He said 59.3 million doses had been given out as of Nov. 1. More than 27 million people or 35.47% of adult Filipinos have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, he added.

Metro Manila had the highest vaccination rate among regions in the country, Health Undersecretary Myrna C. Cabotaje separately told a televised news briefing. 

Calabarzon, Central Luzon, Central Visayas, Western Visayas and Davao also had high vaccination coverage, she added.

Ms. Cabotaje said the half-a-million coronavirus vaccines were given out daily in the past few days. The government seeks to vaccinate at least 50% of its adult population by yearend.

Meanwhile, Mr. Roque said at least 100,000 doses of coronavirus vaccines were damaged in a fire that hit the Department of Health’s regional office in Zamboanga del Sur.

The government could replace the doses destroyed by fire since vaccine supply was no longer a problem, he said. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza