Philippines extends coronavirus curbs as infections hit record for second day

Remigio Civitarese
Agosto 2, 2020

Passengers wearing face masks for protection against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) maintain social distancing while riding on a train in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, July 21, 2020.

The Philippines reported Southeast Asia's biggest daily jump in new coronavirus cases for a second straight day on Friday, as its president extended restrictions in the capital to quell the spread, and promised normality would return in December.

The Philippines this month recorded Southeast Asia's biggest daily jump in coronavirus deaths and biggest single-day increase in confirmed infections.

The capital region, provinces south of it, and cities in central Philippines were placed under general community quarantine, limiting movement of elderly and children, and the capacity of business establishments. "Many have been infected", Duterte said in a prerecorded television address that was broadcast on Friday morning.

The capital and areas around it have been under some form of lockdown for months.

"We are waging a losing battle against COVID-19", it said.

Several pharmaceutical companies from China, the United States and the United Kingdom are conducting late-stage trials on vaccines.

"Healthcare workers are united in sounding a distressed signal", Jose Santiago, president of Philippine Medical Association, said.

"The palace understands the delicate balancing act between public health and the economic health of the nation", Duterte spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement.

The Philippines planned to buy 40 million doses worth $400m for 20 million people, around a fifth of the country's 107 million population, said Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez.

The lockdowns imposed in mid-March are among the world's strictest and longest, and have taken a toll on the country's normally fast-growing economy, with gross domestic product expected to shrink 2% to 3.4% this year, the first contraction in more than two decades.

"Once the vaccine is available I am sure we can fully open", Dominguez said.

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