Manila, Aug 21 (efe-epa).- Manila has exceeded 100,000 cases of COVID-19 and is confirmed as the largest focus of the pandemic by representing 56 percent of the more than 178,000 documented infections in the Philippines.
In the last two weeks, the Philippines has added between 4,000 and 7,000 new cases every day and the capital has contributed more than half of the new daily infections in the country, leading new coronavirus cases in Southeast Asia.
“The metropolitan area of ??Manila is the most densely populated place on the planet, where community transmissions of COVID-19 occur rapidly and it is extremely difficult to control the pandemic,” Professor Guido David, from the center Data Analysis Department from the University of the Philippines, said Friday in a video-forum.
An estimated 5 million Filipinos are crowded in unsanitary conditions in the slums of Manila.
The capital has undergone one of the longest and strictest confinements in the world, initially 78 days, although after slightly relaxing the quarantine for two months, the authorities reimposed it for 15 days in early August to contain the continuous rise in cases of COVID-19.
David explained that after the reimposition of containment measures, the rate of infections dropped from 1.5 to 1.1. The data analysis center of the University of the Philippines recommended extending the quarantine for two more weeks, else the cases in the country would exceed 250,000 by the end of August.
“Most of the community transmissions took place on public transport and in workplaces between June and July, when Manila went into a more relaxed quarantine phase,” said David, who added that the high economic cost of closing the capital has for a developing country like the Philippines.
The government was forced to relax quarantine since Wednesday to reactivate activity in the capital, the country’s main economic engine, which is facing a serious economic and social crisis after having entered a recession when the economy collapsed by 16.5 percent in the second quarter.
Almost half of the country’s workforce, 27.3 million Filipinos, are unemployed due to the strict quarantine.
In the same forum, the former Secretary of Health, Esperanza Cabral, pointed out that there are “other effective ways” to contain the virus without resorting to strict confinements. She advocated trying to maintain social distance, use protective masks and screens all the time and disinfect one’s hands regularly.
“I think it is positive that the government is considering closures located by neighborhoods or buildings when a new outbreak occurs, instead of closing the entire capital, since the economic cost is very high,” said Cabral.
A study published this week by the Ateneo University reflects that the Philippines may have about 3 million undetected COVID-19 cases, since most of the infections are concentrated in the age group between 20 and 40 years and many are asymptomatic. EFE-EPA