Sat, 25 Sep 2021

MANILA, July 23 (Xinhua) -- The Philippines' Department of Health (DOH) reported on Friday 6,845 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 1,537,097.

The DOH said the death toll stayed at 26,891 after no patient died from the viral disease.

The Philippines, which has around 110 million population, has tested more than 15 million people since the outbreak in January 2020.

The government imposed "heightened restrictions" in Metro Manila until July 31, a few hours after the DOH confirmed the local transmission of the highly contagious Delta coronavirus variant.

The Philippines has logged 47 Delta variant cases, including seven in Metro Manila. Three have died.

The country has widened the travel ban to prevent the Delta variant, barring travelers from Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates until July 31.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque said the Beta variant is still the most common strain in the Philippines, followed by the Alpha, the Delta variant, and the Gamma variant.

"Because of the limited capacity of our genome sequencing, we cannot say the extent of (coronavirus variants') local transmission," Duque said.

Duque added that the number of new COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila spiked 18 percent in the last few days. "We are closely monitoring this. I hope that we can stop the upward trend," he said in a radio interview.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an online briefing that Metro Manila and its adjacent areas showed an increase in cases recently after a slow decline in the past weeks.

"The Visayas (in the central Philippines) is also showing an upward trend in the number of cases while Mindanao (in the southern Philippines) has a slight increase this week," Vergeire said.

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