No B.1.1.7 variant detected among 48 samples sequenced — DOH, PGC

Maris Federez   •   January 31, 2021   •   789

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) reports that the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) was only able to sequence 48 samples for the fourth batch of sequencing.

This, the department said, was due to the global shortage of sequencing reagents for high throughput whole genome sequencing.

The DOH, on the other hand, emphasized that none of the 48 samples was positive for the B.1.1.7 or the UK variant.

In an advisory released on Saturday (January 30), the department reported that of the 48 samples, 23 cases came from the National Capital Region which were mostly from Quezon City; 19 from CALABARZON with most cases from Laguna; four from the Cordillera Region; and two were returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs).

The DOH added that seven of these cases are already tagged as recovered. Meanwhile, the active cases in the batch are either asymptomatic or mild cases.

The UP-PGC, in a report, said that they were only able to sequence samples from two ROFs as these two are the only samples that met the minimum amount and cycle threshold value required for sequencing.

“Moreover, the PGC is also set to sequence another 48 samples this coming week, including samples from CAR and other targeted areas, while waiting for the kits and reagents for genomic sequencing,” the report said.

The DOH reiterates that while no new cases have been detected, minimum public health standards remain the best precautionary measure against COVID-19 infection regardless of the variant.

“Thus, the public is urged to strictly adhere to these standards, especially when going to public places, by properly wearing face masks and face shields, maintaining a one-meter distance from other people, limiting the time of interaction to others, ensuring proper air circulation in any establishments or venues, and to regularly sanitize hands,” the advisory concluded. —/mbmf

Philippines posts 37,070 new COVID-19 cases; active tally at 290K

Robie de Guzman   •   January 17, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines on Monday logged 37,070 additional cases of COVID-19, the Department of Health (DOH) said, pushing the country’s total confirmed cases to 3,242,374 since the pandemic started.

Data released on Monday showed that about 36,001 of the new cases occurred between January 4 to January 17.

Most of the cases were recorded in Metro Manila, CALABARZON, and Central Luzon.

This is the sixth straight day that the country logged more than 30,000 new infections, and the fourth day that it announced record-high cases – 39,004 cases last Saturday, 37,207 on Friday, and 37,154 on Sunday.

The new tally brought the number of active infections to 290,938, the DOH said.

Of the newly reported cases, 9,187 were asymptomatic, 277,020 were mild, 2,947 were moderate, 1,480 were severe, and 304 were in critical condition.

The positivity rate was at 46% based on 77,410 tests administered on January 15.

The DOH reported 23 more fatalities, pushing the number of COVID-related deaths to 52,929.

There were 33,940 more recoveries, raising the total number to 2,898,507.

Twelve laboratories were not able to submit their data on time. These facilities contribute on average 5.1% of the samples tested and 5.1% of positive cases.

The utilization rate of intensive care units in use nationwide was at 49% while 58% in the National Capital Region (NCR).

Isolation beds being utilized across the country was at 47%, and 48% in NCR.

Ventilators in use in the capital region was at 22% and 30% in the capital region.

OCTA: COVID-19 growth rate in NCR slows down to -1%

Robie de Guzman   •   January 17, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The growth rate of COVID-19 is decreasing in Metro Manila, the OCTA Research group said on Monday.

OCTA Research fellow Dr. Guido David said the daily growth rate of the seven-day moving average in the region has slowed down to -1 percent.

“Base sa datos kahapon na may 15,959 cases ay bumaba ang daily growth rate to negative 1 percent from 2 percent. So ibig sabihin, naging negative na, mukhang pababa na ng kaunti,” David said in a televised public briefing.

“Pero again di pa tayo pwedeng mag-celebrate,” he added as he stressed the need to closely monitor the case trends in the coming weeks to see if figures are really declining in the NCR.

In a post on Twitter, David said that the growth rate over the past four days, in order, were 11%, 5%, 3%, and 2%.

The region’s COVID-19 reproduction number also went down to 2.67 from around 6.16 recorded last January 2. The rate refers to the number of people infected by one positive case.

While this trend is encouraging, and suggesting the possibility that cases in the NCR have peaked, David said that the possibility still remains that visibility of the situation in the region is clouded because of limitations in testing.

And though the peak may be nearing in the NCR and other nearby areas, David noted that there are many areas outside in the country that have shown an increase in COVID-19 cases.

“Actually, all over the country now, we’re starting to see an increase in cases, kaya makaka-affect ito sa sinasabi nating peak kung pinag-uusapan buong bansa,” he said. “Pero possible na sa NCR, tsaka Cavite, Bulacan, Rizal ay baka malapit na ang peak o nagpi-peak na tayo.”

David urged those in the provinces to get vaccinated or boosted against COVID-19 to protect themselves from hospitalization and severe form of the disease.

He also advised the public to continue adhering to public health protocols such as the proper wearing of face mask, social distancing, and refrain from unnecessary travel to help curb COVID-19 transmission. (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

COVID-19 among leading causes of death in PHL in 2021 – PSA

Robie de Guzman   •   January 17, 2022

The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is among the top three causes of death in the Philippines in 2021, according to data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on Monday.

The PSA said that from January to October 2021, the leading causes of death in the country were ischaemic heart diseases, cerebrovascular diseases, and deaths due to COVID-19.

The agency said that during this period, ischaemic heart diseases were the top cause of death with 110,332 cases or 18.3 percent of the total deaths in the country.

“This indicated an increase of about 28.0 percent from the 86,164 deaths or 16.9 percent of the total deaths in the same period of 2020,” it added.

The second top cause of death is cerebrovascular diseases with 58,880 deaths (9.7% share of the total) during the said period.

The PSA said this is 10.9 percent higher than the 53,082 cases recorded in the same period in 2020.

Deaths due to COVID-19 with virus identified was ranked as the third leading cause which accounted for 51,514 deaths (8.5% share), rising from rank 15 with 7,357 deaths (1.4% share) in the same period of 2020.

The PSA, however, noted that it separated COVID-19 cases under two classifications — COVID-19 with virus identified and COVID-19 virus not identified. Both were included in the top 10 leading causes of death in the country.

Registered deaths due to COVID-19 with virus not identified accounted for 23,771 or 3.9 percent of the total deaths from January to October 2021, making it the 8th leading cause of death.

Registered deaths due to COVID-19 accounted for a total of 75,285 deaths or 12.5 percent of the total registered deaths from January to October 2021.

 

Figure 1. All Causes of Mortality (Top 20), Philippines, January to October, 2020 and 2021

The PSA said that the National Capital Region (NCR) registered the highest number of deaths due to COVID-19 with 18,044 or 24.0 percent of the total COVID-19 deaths from January to October 2021.

CALABARZON ranked second with 16,630 deaths or 22.1%, while Central Luzon came in third with 14,252 deaths (18.9%).

Figure 3. COVID-19 Deaths in NCR Jan to Oct 2021

Other top leading causes of death in the country are neoplasms or cancer with 48,937 recorded cases from January to October 2021, and diabetes mellitus with 38,584 cases, the PSA said.

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