Manila, Dec 1 (efe-epa).- The Philippines on Tuesday extended quarantine in Manila until the end of the year, taking what is already one of the longest and strictest confinements in the world to nine and a half months.
Following recommendations of the working group against COVID-19 and the mayors of cities that comprise metropolitan ??Manila, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday night that Manila’s quarantine would run through Christmas to avoid crowds and new spreads.
The capital, which accounts for about 45 percent of cases, has been progressively relaxing quarantine since September, although parks, cinemas, museums, entertainment venues and schools remain closed, and people under 18 and over 65 are not allowed outside.
The Philippines has registered 431,630 cases – of which more than 398,600 have recovered – and 8,392 deaths, making it the second country in Southeast Asia most affected by COVID-19 after Indonesia.
Manila remains the main center of COVID-19 in the Philippines, although the last month has seen new outbreaks in other secondary cities such as Batangas, Iloilo, Iligan and Davao, which will undergo quarantine like the capital.
The government and medical experts warned people not to become complacent during Christmas, so caroling and festive gatherings have been limited to 10 people.
Lockdown in Metro Manila – which represents almost 70 percent of the national GDP – has dealt a severe blow to the country’s economy, which has entered recession for the first time in three decades and is expected to decline up to 10 percent by year’s end.
Although foreign tourism remains banned, Filipinos have been traveling domestically since Oct. 1, a timid opening after more than six months, but destinations are limited to places such as Boracay, El Nido, Corón or Siargao, and require a negative PCR test. EFE-EPA