The Philippines on Monday received the first batch of the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines its government has purchased from China.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte welcomed the arrival of the CoronaVac vaccines alongside Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines, Huang Xilian, at an air force base in the capital Manila.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque said the vaccine arrival "is very timely and most crucial," especially when Metro Manila and its adjacent provinces are experiencing a surge in coronavirus infections.
Two batches of the China-donated Sinovac vaccines had previously arrived in the Philippines since last February, allowing the Southeast Asian country to kick off its vaccination drive on March 1.
"China now is the first and only country to provide vaccines to the Philippines through both donation and commercial procurement, which is a testament to our traditional friendship with solidarity and closer partnership in the new era," Ambassador Huang said at the handover ceremony on Monday.
The Philippines' Department of Health reported 10,016 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Monday, the highest ever daily tally since the coronavirus outbreak in January last year in the country, raising its total tally to 731,894.
The death toll rose to 13,186 on Monday after 16 more patients died from the viral disease.
The Philippine government is ramping up the vaccination efforts in Metro Manila and its four adjacent provinces where most infections have been detected. It aims to inoculate up to 70 million Filipinos this year to achieve herd immunity, starting with health care workers and the elderly.