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COVID-19 death toll in Philippines breaches 36,000; total cases cross 2.3 million
Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News
Posted at Sep 16 2021 04:34 PM | Updated as of Sep 16 2021 07:07 PM
Catholic devotees offer prayers outside the St. Peter Parish along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City on September 15, 2021.  Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
MANILA (UPDATE)— The total number of people who died due to COVID-19 in the Philippines surpassed the 36,000-mark with 277 newly confirmed fatalities, the health department said Thursday.
This, as the capital region shifted to an alert level system to still control the spread of virus infections but spur the pandemic-hit economy.
The Department of Health (DOH) said the day's deaths, the 8th highest announced so far according to ABS-CBN Data Analytics head Edson Guido, included 174 cases previously classified as recoveries. 
This is the 3rd straight day that fresh fatalities counted more than 200, data showed. 
The Philippines now has 36,018 total COVID-related deaths, the DOH said. Its first fatality was recorded on Feb. 1, 2020 - a Chinese man who arrived days earlier from Wuhan City, China where the disease is believed to have first emerged.
First novel coronavirus death outside China recorded in PH - WHO official
The DOH also reported 21,261 more COVID-19 cases, raising the country' total to 2,304,192.
Thursday's fresh infections is considered the 6th highest daily tally in the country since the pandemic started, according to Guido.
Of the total recorded cases, 177,946 are active, according to the DOH's latest bulletin.
The positivity rate is at 27 percent, based from the test results of 74,149 people on Tuesday. This means that nearly 3 people out of 10 tested positive for COVID-19. 
In the past 2 weeks, the country was able to record some 300,000 new infections. 
"September is on pace to surpass August as the worst month in terms of total cases," Guido said. 
He had said the country registered 400,000 new COVID-19 cases in the month of August of this year alone, or 20 percent of its total virus infections as of Aug. 31.
PH records 13,827 new COVID-19 cases; deaths over 100 for 2 weeks straight
New recoveries, meanwhile, climbed by 13,644 to 2,090,228. The total accounts for 90.7 percent of all recorded cases.
Eighty duplicates, 65 of which are recoveries and one is a fatality, have been excluded from the running tally, the DOH said. 
Two laboratories failed to submit data on time. 
Based on the agency's bulletin, the intensive care unit (ICU) beds utilization rate in Metro Manila remained at 79 percent, while nationwide, it is at 77 percent. These rates are considered high risk.
The ward bed occupancy rate in the National Capital Region is down to 72 percent from 73 percent on Wednesday. Across the Philippines, 73 percent of ward beds are currently being used.
DOH says 91 pct of Philippine provinces, cities still at high risk for COVID-19
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier in the day said at least 91 percent of provinces and cities in the the Philippines are still classified as high risk for COVID-19. 
COVID-19 fatality rate among the elderly also remains high, he said.
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