Philippines to keep Covid-19 curbs in capital as infections fall

Covid-19 cases in the Philippines fell to just over 3,000 on Feb 13 from a record of almost 39,000 infections last month. PHOTO: AFP

MANILA (BLOOMBERG) - The Philippines will keep loose movement restrictions in the capital region from Feb 16 to Feb 28 as daily Covid-19 cases continue to fall.

Metro Manila, which accounts for a third of economic output will remain under the second-lowest alert, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said in a statement on Monday (Feb 14).

Under Alert Level 2, indoor restaurants, gyms and cinemas can operate at half capacity, while outdoor businesses can be 70 per cent full. The restrictions are reviewed every two weeks.

Covid-19 cases in the Philippines, which had the worst Omicron-driven surge in Southeast Asia in January, fell to just over 3,000 on Sunday from a record of almost 39,000 infections last month.

Still, more than 40 per cent of its population has yet to be fully vaccinated, lagging the country's Southeast Asian neighbours. The Philippines is moving to an endemic approach to the coronavirus, which in 2020 plunged the country into its worst recession.

With recovery taking root in the previous quarter, it expects economic growth to accelerate as fast as 9 per cent, and output to return to pre-pandemic levels this year.

The Philippines reopened its borders to tourists from at least 150 countries this month to boost recovery. It has also started vaccinating more than 15 million kids aged five to 11 - an age group it sees as key to driving household consumption.

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