Philippines Announces Strict COVID Lockdown in and Around Manila | News on the coronavirus pandemic

The measures will affect more than 24 million people as more contagious variants of COVID fuel a resurgence of cases.

The Philippines will re-impose tougher quarantine measures in the capital Manila and neighboring provinces, a senior official said, as the country struggles to contain an increase in COVID-19 cases that is putting increasing pressure on hospitals.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said on Saturday that the measures – which would affect more than 24 million people – would be in place from Monday to April 4.

The tighter restrictions in the economic heartland of the country, which makes up about a fifth of the population, stand as more contagious variants of the virus. fuel a resurgence in cases.

The week-long rules apply to Metro Manila and four surrounding provinces, which have already been placed in a travel bubble to try to stop the peak from spreading across the country.

“The virus is the enemy, not the government,” Roque said.

“As long as we’re at home, we expect infection rates to slow down. The government is ready to help. “

Starting Monday, people will have to work from home unless they are considered essential workers and public transportation will be cut off.

All mass gatherings will be banned, nighttime curfews from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. will be enforced, and non-essential businesses will be closed.

President Rodrigo Duterte also wanted to step up contact tracing efforts and mass testing to identify the extent of those infected with the virus, Roque said.

Religious gatherings that were previously allowed up to 10% of their capacity are now also prohibited.

The lockdown comes as Filipinos, mostly Catholics, anticipate the rites and celebration of Holy Week before Easter.

The Health Ministry reported 9,595 new cases of the coronavirus on Saturday, marking the second day in a row that the daily rise in infections has remained above 9,000. The country has seen a record rise in three of the past five days.

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