Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 2) — The Department of Health reported on Wednesday 2,218 new COVID-19 cases, the Philippines’ lowest daily rise since July 29.

The country’s case tally is now at 226,440, of which 64,207 are active cases or currently ill patients, based on the department’s data.

Metro Manila still recorded the highest number of new infections with 1,163, followed by Laguna with 112, Cebu with 107, Iloilo with 82, and Negros Occidental with 81.

The DOH also confirmed another 609 survivors and 27 fatalities in its latest bulletin. These brought the total recoveries to 158,610 and deaths to 3,623.

Twenty-five of the newly reported deaths took place in August, while two in May and June, the DOH said.

It added that 42 duplicates were removed from the national case count as part of its cleaning and validation process, while one case previously reported as a recovery turned out to be a death.

In a media briefing, Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said the decision to extend the quarantine status nationwide is partially due to the improving COVID-19 situation.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday announced that new quarantine classifications will now run for a month, or until Sept. 30. Previously, the government implemented varying degrees of lockdowns for only two weeks based on an area’s progress in containing viral transmission.

As of the August 31 DOH data, the national case doubling time, or the number of days it takes for the number of infections to double, is at 10.08 days — an improvement from 6.26 days during the start of the general community quarantine in Metro Manila on June 1.

Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega also noted that the COVID-19 bed occupancy rate is now down to around 71 percent from 82 percent in August.

Vega said the DOH continues to augment the medical workforce and improve case referral among hospitals and treatment facilities through the One Hospital Command.

The University of the Philippines OCTA Research team projected that cases in the county could surge to 375,000 by the end of September, while the virus’s reproductive rate is seen to further decline. For Metro Manila alone, it said total infections could range from 180,000 to 215,000 by end-September.

Ten more Filipinos abroad have also caught the virus, while two more have died, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs. There are now 10,096 cases among overseas Filipinos in 74 countries, including 757 deaths and 6,177 recoveries.

Globally, around 857,000 people have died of COVID-19 out of over 25.7 million people infected, based on the tracker maintained by the Johns Hopkins University.