Philippines logs 8,719 new COVID-19 cases, total nears 980,000

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Representative Image

Manila [Philippines], April 23 (ANI/Xinhua): The Philippines' Department of Health (DOH) reported on Friday 8,719 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the total cases in the Southeast Asian country to 979,740.

The death toll climbed to 16,529 after 159 more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH said.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque, 64, received his first dose of Sinovac's CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine on Friday. He urged people to get vaccinated, saying the vaccines are safe and effective.

"I invite everyone to do the same and choose to be protected. Let us all take part in protecting public health," Duque said in a statement.

The Philippines has administered over 1.6 million doses of vaccines since the country kicked off the vaccination drive on March 1.

The Philippines received on Thursday an additional batch of Sinovac's CoronaVac purchased from China.

"We are happy that we have a continuous supply of vaccines from Sinovac," said Carlito Galvez, chief implementer of the country's fight against COVID-19.

The Philippine government aims to inoculate up to 70 million Filipinos this year to achieve herd immunity, starting with health care workers and the elderly.

The Philippines continues to grapple with a surge of COVID-19 infections since March. Metro Manila, home to over 13 million people, is the epicenter of the outbreak.

Although the country's daily cases slightly declined in the past week, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an online briefing that the virus transmission in Metro Manila and its four adjacent provinces remains "very high."

Metro Manila and the four adjacent provinces remain under strict lockdown until April 30.

The Philippines, with a population of about 110 million, has tested more than 10.5 million people since the outbreak in January 2020. (ANI/Xinhua)