MANILA (REUTERS) - The Philippines reported a record in new coronavirus cases on Friday (Aug 20) and warned the trend could continue as restrictions were relaxed in the capital region to try to spur economic activity.
The health ministry confirmed 17,231 new cases and 317 fatalities, the highest daily death toll in four months.
Deaths reached more 1.8 per cent of total cases, bringing the August average to 1.5 per cent, versus 1.9 per cent in July.
With more than 1.8 million cases and 31,198 deaths, the Philippines has one of the highest coronavirus tolls in Asia.
The health ministry urged more people to identify infections sooner and get vaccinated to boost protection.
"Early consultation and testing would help to cut infections in homes, communities, and workplaces," it said in a statement.
More than 26 per cent of samples taken tested positive, the country's highest positivity rate so far, while active cases hit 123,251, a four-month record.
Hospitals were filling up, with 73 per cent of the country's intensive care capacity already utilised and 61 per cent of isolation beds occupied, government data showed.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday approved the relaxation of coronavirus curbs in the capital region, a metropolis of 16 cities and home to more than 13 million people, to allow more businesses to resume operations.