Philippines logs 1,235 new COVID-19 cases, Duterte expects ‘good results’ from vaccine rollout

MANILA (Xinhua) – The Department of Health (DoH) of the Philippines reported yesterday 1,235 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 540,227.

The death toll climbed to 11,296 after 65 more patients died from the viral disease, the DoH said. It also said 53 more patients recovered, raising the total number of recoveries to 499,764.

The Philippines, with a population of 110 million, has tested over 7.6 million people since the disease emerged in January last year. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte expressed optimism that arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines starting this month will bring “good results” in the country’s battle against COVID-19.

The Philippines expects the initial 117,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines this month through the World Health Organization-led Covax facility.

Duterte ordered the officials facilitating the government immunisation campaign to distribute the vaccines “as fast as we can” to ensure the integrity and efficacy of the vaccines.

“So, just to make sure that this is an important undertaking and that it should be done correctly, and with the least of mistakes,” he said in a televised public address on Monday night.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said yesterday the initial batch of vaccines will be given to over 50,000 healthcare workers in Metro Manila, the epicentre of the outbreak, and a hospital in Cebu City and Davao City.

Carlito Galvez, the official in charge of the vaccine procurement, earlier said that the Philippines will receive 5.6 million doses of vaccines in the first quarter of 2021 from the Covax facility, the global initiative that ensures that low-income countries have access to vaccines.

The government plans to buy 148 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to inoculate up to 70 million Filipinos this year.