The Philippines announced on Friday that a lockdown will be reimposed on the Metro Manila region, forcing more than 13 million people to stay at home. The move follows rising numbers of Covid cases fueled by the Delta variant.
Harry Roque, spokesperson for the country’s President Rodrigo Duterte, described it as a “difficult decision” that was necessary “to save more lives” during a televised statement explaining the motivation behind the measure.
Restaurants have been prohibited from serving customers and mass gatherings have been banned, with the stay-at-home measure set to last for two weeks from August 6.
The government took the step of reintroducing Covid restrictions after officials warned that the country’s health services could be overwhelmed in the coming weeks if a lockdown was not imposed within the crowded capital region.
On July 28, the OCTA Covid research group informed the government that, without swift action, the capital region could see new daily infections spike to 3,000 per day by the middle of August. So far, 200 cases of the Delta variant have been identified by health officials, with this strain proving highly transmissible.
Following the OCTA’s assessment that Covid case numbers “could overwhelm [hospitals] in a few days,” President Duterte expressed the need to act amid fears that the country cannot afford to cope with another widespread outbreak.
The Metro Manila lockdown follows a decision earlier in July to reimpose a ban on children aged between five and 17 going outdoors. Young people have been prohibited from venturing outside their home throughout the global pandemic amid concerns they could spread the virus.
Since the start of the pandemic, the Philippines has recorded more than 1.5 million confirmed cases of the virus, the second highest number in Southeast Asia, and 27,401 deaths from the disease, according to data provided to the World Health Organization.
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