Philippines to update Covid-19 strategy amid record spike

Cheryl Sanders
August 2, 2020

The Philippines has Southeast Asia's second-highest number of coronavirus infections after Indonesia, with cases up almost five-fold to 89,374 and deaths more than doubling to 1,983 since the tough lockdown was eased in June.

Manila's casinos will reach five full months of closure after Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte extended General Community Quarantine across the National Capital Region for another two weeks until 15 August.

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Last Wednesday, a task force coordinating efforts to roll back the outbreak allowed gyms, Internet cafes, tutorial and review centres, pet clinics and drive-in cinemas to reopen.

But the government cast doubt on the request of the frontline healthcare workers to revive strict lockdowns of the populous area in and around the capital Manila.

"We are waging a losing battle against COVID-19 and we need to draw up a consolidated, definitive plan of action", said the groups, which represent more than a million nurses, doctors and other medical personnel. But infections have since jumped fivefold to 98,232, with deaths more than doubling to 2,039.

"It seems that the current responses are not working because the cases are rising", Bishop Broderick Pabillo said.

"You just have to be patient for now", said Presidential spokesman Harry Roque of Manila's plight.

The lockdowns imposed in mid-March, among the world's strictest and longest, crippled the Philippine economy, which had been among the fastest growing in Asia before the pandemic.

"The health sector can not hold the line for much longer", they said in a letter to President Rodrigo Duterte that was signed by the heads of some 40 medical societies.

Duterte has also acknowledged that corruption by local officials tainted a massive cash aid program for about 23 million poor families that has been widely criticized for delays and chaotic enforcement. We are one with our health experts in appealing to the government to heed their request for the implementation of an ECQ.

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