The President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, has relaxed restrictions on COVID-19 in the capital region from Saturday in an attempt to stimulate economic activity, despite the country’s record number of reported cases, which is overwhelmed. Of medical staff have raised concerns.
The health department confirmed a total of 17,231 new cases on Friday, which is the highest daily number of infections since the beginning of the pandemic last year. There were 317 new deaths and the highest daily death toll in four months.
The death toll accounted for more than 1.8% of the total number of cases, bringing the average level in August to 1.5%, compared with 1.9% in July.
With more than 1.8 million cases and 31,198 deaths, the Philippines is one of the countries with the highest number of coronavirus deaths in Asia.
The Ministry of Health urges more people to detect infections and get vaccinated as soon as possible to strengthen protection.
“Early counseling and testing will help reduce infections in families, communities and workplaces,” it said in a statement.
More than 26% of the samples tested positive, the highest positive rate in the country so far, while the number of active cases reached 123,251, a four-month record.
The hospital is overcrowded
Government data shows that hospitals are overcrowded, 73% of the country’s intensive care capacity has been used, and 61% of isolation beds have been occupied.
Duterte earlier approved the relaxation of restrictions on the coronavirus in Metro Manila, a metropolis with 16 cities and a population of more than 13 million, to allow more businesses to resume operations.
The Philippines is one of the countries with the worst coronavirus epidemic in Southeast Asia and has the longest lockdown. It is trying to stimulate economic activity. The economy contracted by a record 9.5% last year.
Reynaldo Escanilla, who drives a jeepney bus, said: “We have fewer passengers and only allow 50% of the passenger capacity. We had a very difficult time on the journey. Because the money we make is just enough for our daily meals.”
The breakdown of 17,231 cases (DOH data):
NCR = 4,658 (highest since April 18)
R4A = 3,707 (highest ever)
R3 = 2,123 (highest ever)
R7 = 1,311 (the second highest ever)
R2 = 832 (the third highest ever)
R10 = 831 (the fourth highest ever)
R1 = 641 (the fifth highest ever)
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After the Chinese city of Wuhan where COVID-19 was first detected, the Philippines was one of the first countries in the world to implement a lockdown last year, after the country reported the world’s first death from COVID-19.
Manila barber Joel Carino is eager to return to normal life.
“Since the blockade began, we have been hungry. I don’t approve of it because many Filipinos are struggling. Given that most institutions are closed and there are no jobs,” he said.
However, vaccination still has a long way to go. Daily infections, the number of active cases, and the positive rate have all reached record highs. The virus problem in the Philippines is far from over and hurts the poorest people the most.
“A lot of people are feeling the pressure, especially in companies similar to ours. We have no sales, no one,” said restaurant manager Ely Cundangan.
“Some people buy, but very few. How should we live?”
At the same time, with the surge of Delta variants, medical staff and experts expressed concern about the premature removal of COVID-19 restrictions.
Dr. Tony Lichamp, Duterte’s former health consultant, said in an interview: “We may suffer the consequences of this wrong decision because the basic principle to slow the spread of the virus is basically stricter isolation.”
“The worrying thing is to ease [restrictions] Because we may lose lives and overwhelm the healthcare system. I am scared because this virus is very contagious,” he told a local TV station.