PH infections breach 400K mark

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    MORE than 1,500 new coronavirus cases (COVID-19) were reported by the Department of Health yesterday, raising the number of infections in the country past the 400,000 mark nine months since the pandemic was first reported.

    In its latest bulletin, the DOH said of the 1,672 new cases, 100 came from Cavite while Davao City had 99, Quezon City 81, Batangas 78, and Baguio City 70.

    Overall, the total number of virus cases in the country rose to 401,416 while there were 49 more deaths, meaning the deadly virus has claimed the lives of 7,710 patients for a case fatality rate of 1.92 percent.

    There were 311 more recoveries, raising the number of survivors to 362,217. The DOH said 90.2 percent of COVID patients have recovered.

    Half of the P241 million debt of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to different hotels used as quarantine facilities for arriving overseas Filipino workers have been settled, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

    In an online press briefing, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that OWWA has paid over P100 million of its financial obligations after receiving complaints from hotel owners about the burgeoning debts.

    Bello said OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac has committed to settle the balance by next week.

    Bello said the delay in payment was due to the need to properly account for the expenditures of a government agency like OWWA.

    Bello also said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases has approved the DOLE recommendation to lift the temporary suspension of deployment of nurses and other medical workers abroad.

    He, however, stressed the IATF-EID decision is still subject to the approval of President Duterte.

    “We are expecting the decision of the President anytime this week,” said Bello.

    Last April, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration imposed a temporary suspension in the overseas deployment of healthcare workers to ensure a steady supply of healthcare professionals amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The IATF-EID later imposed an exemption to the deployment ban for those with verified employment contract as of March 8, saying such workers can leave the country for overseas employment.