Philippines to re-impose strict lockdown in Manila amid surge in infections

(Update 1: adds detail throughout, changes headline)

By Sara Gomez Armas

Manila, Aug 3 (efe-epa).- A strict lockdown will be re-imposed in the Philippine capital and its adjoining provinces following an appeal by the medical community for more effective measures to curb transmission rates amid an increase in coronavirus infections which have already surpassed 100,000, the government announced early Monday.

“I fully understand why our health personnel demand a break. They have been on the front line for months and are exhausted,” said President Rodrigo Duterte in a televised speech approaching midnight as viewers anxiously awaited the announcement of new measures following an emergency cabinet meeting on Sunday.

The Philippines confirmed 5,032 new cases on Sunday, a daily record since the start of the pandemic with more than half in the capital, bringing the total number of Covid-19 infections to 103,000, with more than 2,000 deaths, one of the highest caseloads in Southeast Asia.

The Manila metropolitan area and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal will reimpose a harsh quarantine on Tuesday until 18 August after 80 medical associations in the country signed a joint statement on Saturday calling for a new approach to the pandemic.

“We’re waging a losing battle against Covid-19 and we need to draw up a consolidated, definitive plan of action,” said a letter addressed to President Rodrigo Duterte and read by Philippine Medical Association (PMA) president Jose Santiago in an online press conference headed by the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) on Saturday.

Health professionals urged the government to give them at least two weeks of “breathing space” with the reimposition of strict quarantine in and around the metropolitan area of ??Manila.

Medics warned that hospitals were reaching breaking point without adequate facilities or sufficient staff amid the surge in infections.

The Philippines is one of the countries in the world with the highest number of infections among healthcare professionals with over 5,000 infections and 38 deaths, according to data from the Department of Health.

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