COVID-19: Philippines Reports 10K Cases as Hard Lockdown Begins

Jojo Riñoza and Luis Liwanag
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COVID-19: Philippines Reports 10K Cases as Hard Lockdown Begins Philippine police check motorcyclists’ documents in Metro Manila as the capital region began a two-week hard lockdown, Aug. 6, 2021.

The Philippines reported more than 10,600 COVID-19 infections on Friday as the capital region began a two-week hard lockdown, while health officials warned that the more virulent Delta strain was already spreading across Metro Manila.

The day’s figure brought the cumulative nationwide caseload to more than 1.6 million since the pandemic began and was the highest since April 2, when the nation reported 15,310 infections. Health officials reported 247 coronavirus deaths on Friday, bringing the death toll to 28,673.

“We are seeing that cases across the nation are kicking upward. We are now feeling the effects of the Delta variant,” Department of Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told local media. “We are assuming that there already is community transmission.”

Neighboring countries including Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand have been reeling lately from an explosion of COVID-19 cases driven by the Delta variant, which was detected in India.

Vergeire said the health sector had not been overwhelmed, but she warned that the hospital system could face trouble should the government fail to slow the rate of infections. About 62 percent of all ICU beds and 53 percent of all isolation beds across the country were filled with patients on Friday, the health department said.

She said the department had been coordinating with hospitals to prepare for a potential sudden rise in hospitalizations, adding that the Delta variant could spread speedily and an infected person could infect eight others. 

“We are hoping that once we vaccinate more and more people, the number of severe cases will also drop,” she said.

A Philippine police officer shines his flashlight into a car at a checkpoint check in Manila, Aug. 6, 2021. [BenarNews]

On Friday, the Philippine government placed Metropolitan Manila, which is home to about 14 million, and four outer-lying suburban provinces under a strict enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

Only essential business and sectors such as hospitals, supermarkets, delivery services, manufacturing firms and business process outsourcing will be allowed to remain fully operational during the lockdown. Indoor and outdoor dining will not be allowed and indoor sports venues and tourist attractions will be closed.

Health officials said 10.2 million Filipinos had been fully vaccinated as of Wednesday. They hope to vaccinate about 70 million of the country’s 110 million people by year’s end in hopes of achieving herd immunity. 

“The Metro Manila mayors promised that they will capitalize this ECQ to increase their fully vaccinated constituents,” said Carlito Galvez, the Philippines’ cabinet official in charge of procuring vaccines. “Let’s not panic because during ECQ we will be more aggressive in our vaccine rollout.”


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