THE PHILIPPINES on Monday reported 261 coronavirus infections, bringing the total to 2.84 million.

The death toll from the coronavirus hit 50,916 after 122 more patients died, while recoveries increased by 395 to 2.78 million, the Department of Health (DoH) said in a bulletin.

There were 9,238 active cases, 507 of which did not show symptoms, 3,153 were mild, 3,400 were moderate, 1,801 were severe, and 377 were critical.

The agency said 95% of the reported cases occurred from Dec. 9 to 22. The top regions with cases in the recent two weeks were Metro Manila with 74, Calabarzon with 32, and Central Luzon with 20.

It said 12% of the reported deaths occurred in December, 14% in November, 32% in October, 22% in September, 8% in August, and 4% in July, 2% in June, 1% in May, 2% in April, 1% in August 2020, 2% in July 2020, and 1% in April 2020.

The Health department said four duplicates, which were recoveries, were removed from the tally. The agency said 192 patients had tested negative and were removed from the tally. Of these, 189 were recoveries.

It added that 113 recoveries were relisted as deaths. Two laboratories did not operate on Dec. 20, while 12 laboratories did not submit data.

The government aims to vaccinate at least 54 million Filipinos by yearend, as it seeks to prevent an outbreak of the highly contagious Omicron variant.

Health authorities have already shortened the interval for booster shots against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Adults can get a booster shot three months after the second shot of a two-dose vaccine, the Health department said in a press release. Recipients of a single-dose vaccine can receive a top-up shot after two months, it added.

“We are exploring all possible options to safely mitigate the effects of more transmissible variants of COVID-19,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III was quoted as saying. “The approval came at an opportune time as several countries also re-strategized in light of the Omicron and other COVID-19 variants that may emerge.”

The Health chief said those who are yet to receive their primary vaccine doses should be prioritized.

The Health department separately said in a Viber message that there are around 19.37 million people eligible for boosters. Of these, around 1.2 million already received their top-up shots, it added.

More than 45.28 million people or 58.71% of the target population have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Dec. 21, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei B. Nograles said at a televised news briefing.

The country has injected 1.2 million booster or additional doses, he added.

At the same briefing, Kezia Lorraine Rosario of the government’s vaccination operations center said at least five million doses of vaccines were injected during the country’s vaccination drive from Dec. 15 to 21.

However, the government suspended the inoculation drive in some areas due to the threat of typhoon Rai, locally named Odette, the strongest typhoon to hit the country this year. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza