Philippine capital in lockdown again as Covid-19 cases surge

Bangkok, Mar 29 (efe-epa).- Filipino authorities reimposed stricter quarantine measures in the capital Manila and surrounding provinces Monday in a bid to contain a new surge in Covid-19 cases in the country.

The “enhanced community quarantine” will last at least for a week as the Philippines struggles to contain the worst virus outbreak since the Covid-19 crisis began more than a year ago.

The confinement measure, which coincides with the Easter holidays, affects about 30 million people in the metropolitan area and the provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, and Cavite.

The country has logged more than 9,000 daily infections for the last three days, which is the highest since the outbreak.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Saturday the measure to impose “stricter restrictions on movement” would reduce the number of daily cases and would have a minimum impact on the economy since the Catholic-majority nation will have an extended Easter weekend.

It involves the closure of all establishments except markets and pharmacies.

Only one member in a family will be allowed to come out of the home to buy commodities.

There will be a strict curfew from 6 pm to 5 am every night.

Essential traders and services, including media establishments, will operate at up to 50 percent capacity.

Authorities have also banned social gatherings of more than 10 people as churches have also been closed to avoid crowds on Easter.

The government has also vowed to accelerate the Philippines immunization drive during the week of confinement in the worst-affected areas.

China on Monday sent a million doses of Sinovac.

Earlier, the country had received another million doses weeks ago from the firm, in addition to 525,000 acquired from AstraZeneca.

The Philippines has a total of 721,892 confirmed cases. More than 105,500 are active cases, a record since the pandemic began.

The virus has also claimed 13,170 lives in the country.

Manila and nearby provinces, the economic hub of the country, were under a tough quarantine for more than six months last year.

It was one of the most drawn-out lockdowns in the world that was relaxed in October.

The Philippine economy last year entered into a recession for the first time in three decades.

To mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic, the government has promised cash assistance for the families worst-affected by the economic slowdown.

The slowdown has increased the unemployment rate to 10 percent, which does not include a million unemployed in the informal economy. EFE-EPA

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