Mon, 02 Aug 2021

MANILA, June 15 (Xinhua) -- The Philippines' Department of Health (DOH) reported 5,389 new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections on Tuesday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 1,327,431.

The death toll climbed to 22,963 after 118 more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH said.

The Philippines, with a population of more than 110 million, has tested more than 13 million people since the outbreak in January 2020.

The decline in the number of new cases in the country has "stalled, and a plateauing trend continues," Alethea De Guzman of the DOH Epidemiology Bureau told an online briefing.

The number of new cases in Metro Manila and neighboring areas shows a "very slow decline," said De Guzman, adding the Visayas region in the central Philippines "now has the steepest increase in cases surpassing the number of cases in Metro Manila and adjacent areas."

She warned that the current downward trend "remains fragile" and trends "can go either way."

Lockdown restrictions in Metro Manila and neighboring areas will remain until June 30, prohibiting large gatherings and urging people to stay at home.

Since mid-March last year, the country is under varying lockdown restrictions to curb the infections of COVID-19. The government has gradually eased quarantine restrictions and is ramping up vaccination rollout to help the economy recover from the pandemic.

"The main difference between last year's quarantine and this year is that we did not shut down 75 percent of the economy," Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said at a forum on Tuesday.

Chua expressed optimism that the country's economic potential remained as the government re-calibrated its risk management strategy.

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