Philippines eases restrictions in Metro Manila despite surge in COVID-19 infections

MANILA (XINHUA) – The Philippines is easing the lockdown restrictions in Metro Manila and four adjacent provinces starting today despite the surge of COVID-19 infections, a government spokesman said yesterday.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte approved to relax restrictions in Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal until April 30.

The Philippines’ Department of Health (DOH) reported 11,681 new COVID-19 infections yesterday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 864,868.

The death toll climbed to 14,945 after 201 more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH said.

Roque said the government will further improve the country’s healthcare system including decongesting of hospitals. The government will also build more step-down facilities for recovering patients, he added.

A woman wearing a face mask at a market in Manila. PHOTO: XINHUA

The government placed Metro Manila and four adjacent provinces under a two-week strict lockdown from March 29 “to limit the spread of the variants” and contain the surging virus transmission.

Since the re-imposition of stricter restrictions, the DOH reported over 10,000 average cases every day.

Health authorities blamed the fast-spreading “variants of concern” as one of the drivers of transmission and the people’s failure to comply with health protocols such as wearing face-coverings and avoiding gatherings.

The Philippines, which has about 110 million population, has tested over 10 million people since the outbreak in January 2020.