Record COVID-19 infections as Philippines lockdown eased

Philippines COVID-19 infections

Authorities in the Philippines eased lockdown in the capital despite recording its highest daily number of Covid-19 infections on Friday.

More than 13 million people in the national capital region went into lockdown on August 6 as the hyper-contagious Delta variant helped drive a resurgence in infections that has strained hospitals.

A Covid-19 task force agreed on Thursday to allow more businesses to open their doors from Saturday. But a stay-at-home order for non-essential workers would remain in place and restaurant dining banned.

The decision to ease COVID-19 restrictions set off apprehension among overstretched healthcare workers.

The Philippines health department confirmed on Friday a total of 17,231 new COVID-19 infections. This was the highest daily number of infections since the pandemic began last year. In addition, there were 317 fatalities on the same day, the highest daily death toll in four months.

With more than 1.8 million cases and 31,198 deaths, the Philippines has one of the highest coronavirus tolls in Asia.

The health ministry urged more people to identify infections sooner and get vaccinated to boost protection.

“Early consultation and testing would help to cut infections in homes, communities, and workplaces,” it said in a statement.

More than 26% of samples taken tested positive, the country’s highest positivity rate so far, while active cases hit 123,251, a four-month record.

Hospitals were filling up, with 73% of the country’s intensive care capacity already utilised and 61% of isolation beds occupied, government data showed.

But, President Rodrigo Duterte said the country could not afford more lockdowns after coronavirus measures shattered the economy and threw millions out of work.

Manila Barber Joel Carino is eager to get back to normal life.

“Ever since the start of lockdown, we felt hunger. I’m not in favour of it since a lot of Filipinos are struggling. There are no jobs given most establishments are closed,” he said.

But with a long way to go with vaccinations and record highs for daily infections, active case numbers and the positivity rate, the virus problems are far from over in the Philippines, hurting its poorest the most.

“A lot are feeling the weight especially in businesses similar to ours. We have no sales, there are no people,” said restaurant manager Ely Cundangan.


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