The Philippines reported 37,207 new COVID-19 infections on Friday, the highest one-day case count since the outbreak, pushing the number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 3,129,512.
The Department of Health (DOH) said that the number of active cases soared to 265,509. The positivity rate slightly dipped to 47.3 per cent from the record 47.9 per cent the previous day.
The DOH said that 81 more people died from COVID-19 complications, bringing the country's death toll to 52,815. Eight laboratories failed to submit data on Friday.
With surging infections, the government reimposed restrictions in Metro Manila, its adjacent provinces, and several provinces with high virus clusters across the country to force people, particularly the unvaccinated, to stay at home.
The national police said at least 372 areas in Metro Manila and Luzon island are under hard lockdown. Police and local officials impose granular lockdowns on houses, streets, or buildings with virus clusters.
Metro Manila, the region with the most active and new cases, will remain under alert level 3 on a scale of 5 until January 31, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said in a virtual press conference on Friday.
Nograles said there is no need to raise the alert level for now, adding that bed and intensive care unit utilization rates are still relatively low despite record level daily case counts.
"We are closely monitoring the situation in Metro Manila. If the bed utilization rate hits 71 percent, then it would be the right time to elevate to alert level 4," he said, adding the government is trying to manage the situation to prevent raising to the second-highest alert level.
Meanwhile, the government has eased the travel restrictions for returning Filipinos. Under the new rule, travelers from the so-called "red list" countries and regions can even enter through regular flights from January 16 to January 31.
The Philippines' COVID-19 infections surged to record levels since last Saturday due to high mobility, poor compliance with safety health protocols, and the fast-spreading Omicron and Delta variants.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the DOH projects cases peak by the end of January or the second week of February. "The peak of cases is not going to happen soon. The cases will continue to rise," she said.
According to DOH, over 53.3 million people have been fully vaccinated. The Philippines, which has around 110 million population, has tested more than 24 million people since the outbreak.