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Philippines Reports 862 Additional Coronavirus Infections, Seven More Deaths

Published on May 31, 2020 9:18 AM
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MANILA (Reuters) ? The Philippines on Sunday reported 862 additional coronavirus situations and also seven more deaths from the breathing illness.

In a publication, the Department of Health claimed the Southeast Asian nation currently had an overall of 18,086 infections while its casualty had actually increased to957 It claimed 101 more individuals had actually recouped, taking the variety of recuperations up until now to 3,909

The Philippines is established on Monday to alleviate its coronavirus lockdown in the funding Manila, among the most difficult and also lengthiest on the planet.

Officially referred to as ?general community quarantine?, this third phase of Manila?s virus lockdown is set to be in place until June 15. It will see cars and express buses return to the roads, with trains also permitted to restart operations, but other buses and jeepneys will still be banned. Officials have hinted that all public transport might be allowed to return after June 22.

As of Saturday, the Philippines had detected 17,224 coronavirus cases with 950 deaths, but the number of infected is believed to be higher because of limited testing.  

?The government is planning to lift quarantine gradually and incrementally,? said Dr Anthony Leachon, a special adviser on public health policy to the Philippines? coronavirus task force who added that the economic reopening was needed to avoid a downturn and said that health ?safety nets? were in place.

?The government is ready to clamp down on new spikes in coordination with local government units?, he said, describing the approach as ?calibrated and adaptive?.

Metro Manila?s 16 cities and one municipality are the Philippines? economic powerhouse but since lockdown began on March 16, ?the economy and a lot of businesses, big and small, are suffering,? said Acoba, the investment strategist. ?A lot of businesses have already closed.?

Maintaining a strict lockdown ?will put more pressure on the economy ? more companies will close for goods, more jobs will be lost, default rates will rise further,? he said.

The Philippines? economy shrank 0.2 per cent in the first quarter, according to official figures, and is projected to have lost as much as 1.1 trillion pesos (US$21.8 billion) during the first 45 days of the lockdown.

GDP growth could plummet from more than 6 per cent last year to just 0.6 per cent in 2020, the International Monetary Fund has said, while Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello III told a recent senate hearing that it was ?possible? the 2.6 million workers who had already lost their jobs could be joined by 7 million more before the end of the year.

A man wearing a face mask carries a bag of takeaway food as he rides an escalator inside a shopping centre in Quezon City on May 17. Photo: Reuters
Loans of US$760 million from the China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and US$500 million from the    have been earmarked for supporting testing capacity, giving emergency assistance to poor households and providing wage subsidies to smaller businesses.

Dr Mary Grace Dacuma, a molecular epidemiologist and member of the University of the Philippines pandemic response team, said she was ?apprehensive? about the easing the virus lockdown on Metro Manila as more than 60 per cent of the country?s virus cases had been in the capital region, making it the ?epicentre of Covid-19?.

She said it was ?very easy to imagine? how exciting the prospect of economic reopening must be after such a long period of lockdown, especially given the ?significant economic impacts and losses?, but cautioned that ?we are not going back to that normal way of life we were used to before?.

Despite there not yet being a vaccine or effective medication to treat Covid-19, Dacuma said the Philippines could see the ?control of and possible halt to the spread of the virus in Metro Manila? if everyone follows distancing regulations and other measures, cases are diagnosed ?with less than three days turnover time from collection to release of diagnostic results? and all infected people?s contacts are traced, diagnosed and quarantined.

A health worker gestures inside a booth at a sports stadium being used as a Covid-19 swab sample collection facility in the Philippines. Photo: EPA

The other, more ?scary? scenario would see limited safety standards put in place, less adherence to health protocols on the part of the public, ?no mandatory screening for returning workers and employees, a prolonged turnover time in diagnosing suspected cases and poor contact tracing?, with the end result being an ?upsurge of cases that may overwhelm the health system and likely endanger all other provinces?, she said.

The country is not yet ready to relax its quarantine, far from itRon Acoba, investment strategist

For Acoba, the investment strategist, the Philippines is not ?adequately equipped to mitigate the spread of the virus while the economy is running?.

?Mass transport has been one of the country?s weakest links,? he said. ?[With] roughly 300,000 commuters, for example, riding the [Manila Metro Rail Transit System] daily, implementation of social distancing will definitely be a challenge.?

?The country is not yet ready to relax its quarantine, far from it, if you look at the Covid curve ours has not exactly declined yet. There will be a huge risk that the virus may exponentially spread again, effectively nullifying our collective efforts in the past two and a half months,? he said.

?The more important step is really having the capacity to test and trace, which we haven?t made a good job of. Lives are obviously more important than business and the economy, but even so there are ways to soften the blow of a lockdown by spending and concentrating our efforts on testing and tracing.?



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