Metro Manila enters ‘new normal’ as Covid restrictions ease

Bangkok Desk, March 1 (EFE).- Manila and other parts of the country entered a “new normal” on Tuesday after the authorities relaxed Covid-19 measures in the Philippine capital after almost two years of restrictions.

Metro Manila, along with 38 other areas throughout the country, are now under the least restrictive measures – alert level 1 – since the start of the pandemic.

The metropolis, with a population of some 13.5 million people, was severely hit by Covid-19 and the authorities enforced one of the longest and most severe lockdowns in the world, as well as the closure of schools for more than one academic year.

With the relaxation of measures that came into force Tuesday, the city’s workplaces, establishments and public transport return to full capacity, and contact tracing is optional, although masks will continue to be mandatory and proof of vaccination will be required for indoor settings and mass gatherings.

The relaxation coincides with the reopening of the archipelago, which in mid-February opened its borders to vaccinated tourists from 157 countries with the aim of reactivating the important tourism sector, but which does not include China, one of its main visitors.

The country is also in the midst of a presidential election campaign with colorful vehicle caravans and massive parties.

Manila, which experienced its worst wave of deaths between August and December last year, registered its highest number of daily cases in January, exceeding 10,000, and has now dropped to under 300 per day.

A similar pattern has followed across the rest of the country, which registered more than 38,000 cases two months ago, while fewer than 1,000 new infections were confirmed on Monday.

The Philippines is the second country most affected by Covid-19 in Southeast Asia, behind Indonesia, with 3.66 million infections and more than 56,450 deaths.

Its vaccination campaign, however, is progressing slowly, with around 57 percent of the population fully inoculated, according to official data. EFE


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