Philippines, Indonesia buck Covid trend in SE Asia as daily cases mount

Manila/Jakarta, Jul 17 (efe-epa).- The daily number of Covid-19 cases continue to surge in the Philippines and Indonesia, which have become exceptions to the rule in Southeast Asia, where most countries have the pandemic largely under control.

In the Philippines, where the first coronavirus cases were detected in January, the upward trend in infections has persisted despite one of the longest and most restrictive lockdowns anywhere in the world.

The cities of Manila and Cebu have been under lockdown for four months, and yet hospitals in the country’s two main population hubs are being overstretched by Covid-19 patients.

On Thursday the Philippines surpassed 60,000 cases, a grisly milestone that the most pessimistic studies predicted would not be hit until August. It came as another 2,500 cases were added to the country’s health records.

Coronavirus has been linked to 1,643 deaths in the archipelagic nation.

As of Wednesday this week much of the Philippines was in the advanced stages of easing the lockdown.

However, densely populated areas, including the capital, which is home to 13 million, remained in an intermediate phase allowing for the tentative resumption of economic activity but still restricting the movement of people between provinces.

Experts from the University of the Philippines said Manila may have to put the brakes on easing the lockdown, given that the infection rate in the capital has swelled to 1.7 percent. They added that the curve was unlikely to be flattened until September.

Although the country is capable of 20,000 tests per day, only 987,000 people have been tested so far, representing less than 1 percent of the country’s 108 million people.

Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country with 270 million people, has implemented a range of health measures across the sprawling archipelago’s 17,000 islands, but they have come up short.

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