More businesses re-open in Philippine capital

MANILA (AP) — Fitness gyms, barber shops and Internet cafes were allowed to re-open partly in the Philippine capital yesterday as the government further eased quarantine restrictions despite the country having the most coronavirus infections in Southeast Asia.

President Rodrigo Duterte, however, placed the southern city of Iligan under a mild lockdown after a rise in community infections, underscoring how COVID-19 cases have spread away from metropolitan Manila, the epicentre of the country’s outbreak.

Nighttime curfews have been shortened in most cities in the capital area and outlying provinces under the new arrangements, which will last for a month.

Duterte also said medical personnel would get free food and lodging if they would otherwise be ejected by landlords and dormitory owners fearing they were virus carriers. If the landlords get sick “don’t let them into hospitals too, maybe that’s better, tit-for-tat,” the tough-talking president said, but later added he was joking.

More than 220,000 COVID-19 cases, including about 3,500 deaths, have been reported in the Philippines, which has struggled to balance public restrictions and economic concerns.

Elsewhere, Myanmar has reported its highest single-day total of COVID-19 cases since its first cases were confirmed in late March. The Health Ministry announced 95 new cases, bringing the country’s total to 882. Of that total, 354 have recovered and six have died.

Myanmar has seen a surge over the past week, mostly in the western state of Rakhine, which borders Bangladesh and hosts several major camps for people displaced by years of civil conflict.

A stay-home programme has been instituted in Rakhine, with unnecessary and unauthorised travel banned. Northwestern Myanmar borders India, which has the third-highest caseload in the world.