Philippines Adds Week to COVID-19 Lockdown in Manila, Nearby Areas

Aie Balagtas See
Manila
2021-04-05
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Philippines Adds Week to COVID-19 Lockdown in Manila, Nearby Areas Volunteer nurses inoculate Filipinos with the Sinovac and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines inside a sports stadium in Marikina City, east of Manila, April 5, 2021.
Basilio Sepe/BenarNews

The Philippine government extended by another week the lockdown it imposed in Metro Manila and four nearby provinces as COVID-19 cases keep spiking and have forced overwhelmed hospitals to reject patients.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the lockdown would be extended until April 11. This means that 24 million people are advised to stay indoors, and a night-time curfew from 6 p.m. until 5 a.m. the next morning remains in effect.

The lockdown was to end Easter Sunday, but a record number of infections had forced the government’s hand, officials said. 

“Like what we have announced last Saturday, the president has approved the recommendation of the IATF to extend until April 11, 2021, the enhanced community quarantine or ECQ in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal,” Roque told a virtual news conference on Monday, referring to the Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19. 

Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal are the tightly packed suburbs near the capital where cases have been monitored to be rising. 

A record 15,310 new infections were logged on Friday followed by more than 23,000 infections over the cases at the weekend, before the figure tapered off to 8,355 on Monday. The total number of those infected in the Philippines had reached 803,398, with the coronavirus death toll at 13,435, according to health officials.

Roque said the government would increase the numbers of hospitals specifically catering to COVID-19 patients. The government is expected to assess the situation in a week to determine if the lockdown can be eased, the presidential spokesman added.

The ongoing rise in cases was a global trend and not exclusive to the Philippines, said the World Health Organization’s representative in Manila, Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe.

“We are seeing an increase of cases week-by-week over the last four weeks,” he said during the same news conference, adding that this could be attributed to the arrival of new COVID-19 variants at a time when people are gradually lessening compliance to health protocols.

“Many people are showing signs of fatigue in complying with these restrictive practices which have been proven to be effective in reducing transmission,” Abeyasinghe said.

Contributing factor

Another contributing factor is the public’s optimism about the eventual arrival of vaccines, the WHO official said, as he urged the government to continue with its rollout. 

The surge has led the government-run Philippine Orthopedic Center, National Kidney and Transplant Institute and the Lung Center of the Philippines to announce they were full, according to reports.

The situation has been so dire, that 117 of 180 staff members at the orthopedic center who were swabbed tested positive for COVID-19, effectively forcing the hospital to stop patient services and place a hold on surgeries, hospital officials said. 

The officials appealed to the public to continue to self-quarantine. 

Meanwhile, Health department spokeswoman Maria Rosario Vergeire on Monday said the lockdown had allowed hospitals to free up space in some of their intensive care units. Hospitals are transferring asymptomatic patients or those with mild symptoms to other facilities.

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