Duterte reimposes lockdowns as Philippines virus cases surge

Duterte reimposes lockdowns as Philippines virus cases surge
Virus Outbreak Philippines

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is reimposing a moderate lockdown in Manila and outlying provinces after medical groups appealed for the move as coronavirus infections surge alarmingly.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said metropolitan Manila, the capital region of more than 12 million people, and five densely populated provinces would revert to stricter quarantine restrictions for two weeks starting on Tuesday.

Mass public transport will be barred and only essential travel will be allowed.

Leaders of nearly 100 medical organisations held a rare online news conference on Saturday and warned the health system had been overwhelmed by infection spikes and could collapse as health workers fall ill or resign from exhaustion and fear.

(PA Graphics)

They asked Mr Duterte to reimpose a tight lockdown in the capital to allow health workers “a time out” and allow the government to review its response to the pandemic.

The number of Covid-19 cases in the Philippines surged past 103,000 on Sunday and is second-most in Southeast Asia.

While he granted the demand, Mr Duterte appeared irritated by the medical groups’ criticism, saying they could have talked to him first.

“If you will stage a revolution, you will give me the free ticket to stage a counter-revolution. How I wish you would do it,” Mr Duterte said in televised remarks on Sunday night.

Rows of beds are seen at a temporary field hospital for Covid-19 patients set up at Asia World Expo site in Hong Kong (Kin Cheung/AP)

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

— An outbreak in China’s far north-western region of Xinjiang is continuing to subside, with 28 new cases reported on Monday. The outbreak of 590 cases so far has been concentrated in the capital, Urumqi, where authorities have conducted mass testing, cut public transport, isolated some communities and restricted travel.

— While mainland China’s latest outbreak appears to have peaked, authorities in the semi-autonomous Chinese city of Hong Kong are struggling to contain infections, with more than 200 added over the weekend.

— South Korea has confirmed 23 additional cases of the coronavirus, amid a downward trend in the number of locally infected patients.

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