Sun, 09 May 2021

MANILA, April 13 (Xinhua) -- The Philippines' Department of Health (DOH) reported 8,571 new COVID-19 infections Tuesday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 884,783.

The death toll climbed to 15,286 after 137 more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH said.

The Philippines is continuing its efforts to break the transmission chains by ramping up contact tracing in the next two weeks to lower the hospital occupancies, the DOH said on Tuesday.

"With the sustained high count of cases, (the government has) committed to reducing the duration of infections through increased contact tracing efficiency and strengthened active case finding through testing at the community level," the DOH said in a statement.

The government will deploy nearly 28,000 contact tracers in Metro Manila and neighboring four provinces with high cases to identify people that a COVID-19 patient has come in contact with, the DOH said.

Over 3,000 beds for critically ill and severe patients were also added in different hospitals in Metro Manila and the four areas to cope with the increasing number of coronavirus patients.

"The next few weeks will be crucial," Health Secretary Francisco Duque said in a statement, stressing the need to put in place "sustainable and long-term" measures to avoid virus surge in the future.

The Philippines placed Metro Manila and four adjacent provinces, home to over 28 million people, under strict lockdown since March 29 as COVID-19 cases soar.

The Philippines, which has about 110 million population, has tested over 10 million people since the outbreak in January 2020.

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