MANILA, March 13 (Xinhua) -- The Philippines' Department of Health (DOH) reported Saturday 5,000 new COVID-19 infections, the highest daily tally in nearly seven months, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 616,611.

Saturday's tally is the highest daily rise since August 26 last year, when the DOH reported 5,277 cases.

The death toll climbed to 12,766 after 72 more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH said. It added 281 more patients recovered, raising the total number of recoveries to 547,166.

The Philippines, which has about 110 million population, has tested over 8.5 million people since the disease emerged in January last year.

The Philippines confirmed on Saturday the detection of a first case of the COVID-19 variant first identified in Brazil.

The DOH said that the University of the Philippines-Philippine Genome Center detected the first variant in a returning overseas Filipino who arrived from Brazil. "Additional information about the case is currently being investigated," the DOH said in a statement.