Manila may return to lockdown as coronavirus cases surge

The Philippines has the second-highest number of infections in South-east Asia, next to Indonesia. PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA (BLOOMBERG) - The Philippine capital will remain under loose movement restrictions starting Thursday (July 16), but may return on a stricter lockdown in two weeks if coronavirus cases continue to rise.

Metro Manila will stay under general community quarantine until end-July, allowing most businesses to remain open, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said at a televised briefing on Wednesday.

Mr Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte initially wanted to reimpose strict stay-home orders and limit business operations in the capital following a University of the Philippines' study which projected that virus cases may rise to 80,000 by the end of the month.

Mayors in the capital region however pledged to intensify targeted lockdowns and testing.

Coronavirus cases in the Philippines have more than tripled to 58,850, including 1,614 deaths, as of Wednesday since stay-home orders in the capital were lifted and most businesses were allowed to reopen starting June.

The Philippines has the second-highest number of infections in South-east Asia, next to Indonesia.

The World Health Organisation has raised concerns over the increasing number of individuals in the Philippines testing positive of the virus, causing Covid-19 wards in some of the capital's major hospitals to reach full capacity.

Despite rising infections, economic managers have pushed for further reopening to reignite an economy that's facing its deepest slump in three decades. The government has also allowed Filipinos to go on non-essential travel abroad, as long as they will undergo quarantine upon return.

The Department of Education targets to start classes by late-August, although face-to-face interactions will be limited, Secretary Leonor Briones said at the same televised briefing. Students have the option of using the Internet, radios or printed materials for their lessons.

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