MANILA, March 9 (Xinhua) -- The Philippines' Department of Health (DOH) reported on Tuesday 2,668 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 600,428.
The death toll climbed to 12,528 after seven more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH said. It added 171 more patients recovered, raising the total number of recoveries to 546,078.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque reported during a televised public meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte late on Monday night that the number of cases rose in Metro Manila and other regions across the country.
Duque said two cities in Metro Manila are at "critical-risk level" and three cities are at "high-risk level."
Duterte blamed the spike on complacency as the Filipinos "abandoned" the minimum health protocols, urging people to wear face-covering properly and keep a safe distance.
World Health Organization (WHO) Representative in the Philippines Rabindra Abeyasinghe stressed the need to "strengthen the protocols on the ground" to curb the infection, including early detection, quarantine, isolation, and management of COVID-19 patients.
Abeyasinghe said it is not conclusive if the more infectious variants found in Britain and South Africa are driving the spike. The Philippines detected 118 cases of the variant found in Britain, 58 cases of that found in South Africa.