Manila, May 12 (efe-epa).- The Philippines on Tuesday announced an ease in lockdown restrictions in large areas of its territory, although the curbs will remain in force in densely populated urban areas such as Manila and Cebu along with the Laguna province.
The strict lockdown measures which were put in place due to COVID-19 pandemic will continue for a total of 16 million Filipinos until May 31 – which includes 13 million habitants in the metropolitan area of Manila – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press conference on Tuesday.
Roque said that the extension of the strict lockdown measures in these areas would be slightly modified May 15 onwards and some sectors will be allowed to operate with a cap of 50 percent of its total capacity in an effort to revive the economy.
“We cannot afford a second or third wave of the coronavirus,” a few hours before, President Rodrigo Duterte said in a televised address to explain the new measures.
So far, the Philippines has confirmed 11,086 infections including 726 deaths and 2,000 recovered patients.
Out of these figures, 64 percent of COVID-19 cases and 72 percent of the deaths caused by the infection has been reported in Manila, making it a high risk zone for infection.
The Duterte government has extended the lockdown for the third time since Mar.17 after it had announced strict restrictions in the entire region of Luzon which has a population of around 57 million that accounts for more than half of the country’s population.
The lockdown was imposed on Mar. 15 in Manila and it would be in effect until May 31, meaning a total restriction in the capital for 78 days which would be two more days than the Chinese city of Wuhan where the coronavirus outbreak was first reported in January.
However gradual easing on restrictions on the Luzon island is set to begin from May 15 whereas other provincial islands in central and southern Philippines began relaxation in curbs May 1 onwards.
Public transport – with half of its capacity – has resumed in these areas while the majority of establishments and shopping malls with high sanitization measures have reopened. However restaurants are only accepting home delivery orders.
Across the country, the academic year is not expected to begin before August. It usually begins in June.
The Philippine economy contracted 0.2 percent in the first quarter of 2020 amid the strict lockdown measures, making it the first drop since 1998, while 2 million Filipinos have so far lost their jobs.
The strict lockdown measures in Manila would impact the economy of the country sharply as it contributes to 36 percent of the Philippines’ GDP. EFE-EPA