Philippines: Millions ordered to stay home; daily cases soar to record-high 6,352 as total hits 112,593

  • Philippines
  • Tuesday, 04 Aug 2020

Stranded domestic flight passengers wait for updates at the airport in Manila on Tuesday August 4, 2020, after all domestic flights were cancelled following new restrictions to combat the coronavirus outbreak. More than 27 million people -- a quarter of the Philippine population -- were give 24-hours notice of the new restrictions that have shuttered many businesses, halted public transport and grounded flights in the capital and four surrounding provinces as the government battles to rein in the virus. - AFP

MANILA, Aug 4, 2020 (AFP) - Millions of people in the Philippines were ordered to stay home on Tuesday as global coronavirus infections kept soaring, with the World Health Organisation warning against relying on a vaccine "silver bullet" to end the pandemic.

The number of confirmed Covid-19 (coronavirus) cases in the Philippines surged to 112,593 after the Department of Health (DOH) reported a record high of 6,352 new cases on Tuesday.

The DOH said that the number of recoveries rose to 66,049 after 240 patients have survived the disease.

The death toll also increased to 2,115 after 11 more patients have succumbed to the viral disease, the DOH said.

Metro Manila topped the five regions or provinces with the highest number of daily confirmed coronavirus cases reported on Tuesday with 3,139, followed by Laguna province, south of Manila, 592; Cavite province, south of Manila, 550; Rizal province, east of Manila, 277; and Cebu province in the central Philippines, 261.

"We are seeing an observable increase in the reported cases which is primarily driven by clustering in different communities," the DOH said.

On Tuesday, the government reimposed stricter lockdown measures in Metro Manila and adjacent provinces of Laguna, Cavite, Rizal and Bulacan due to the steady spike in COVID-19 cases in these areas. People in these areas in the main island of Luzon are urged to stay at home.

More than 27 million people are affected by the lockdown which will remain in place for two weeks.

Public transport, including commuter trains, buses and taxis, has been temporarily suspended in Metro Manila and the four provinces. Domestic flights were also cancelled.

It is hoped that reverting back to stricter lockdown measures will break the increasing trend of positive Covid-19 cases.

Ranjit Rye, a professor at the University of the Philippines, has projected the Covid-19 infections to reduce by somewhere between 50,000 to 70,000 as Metro Manila and the four provinces return to a stricter modified enhanced community quarantine.

Cyclists bike on the sidewalk as traffic builds up at a checkpoint on the first day of the government's reimplementation of a stricter lockdown to curb virus infections, in Marikina City, Metro Manila, Philippines, on Tuesday, August 4, 2020. - ReutersCyclists bike on the sidewalk as traffic builds up at a checkpoint on the first day of the government's reimplementation of a stricter lockdown to curb virus infections, in Marikina City, Metro Manila, Philippines, on Tuesday, August 4, 2020. - Reuters

Rye has earlier projected the virus cases to reach 200,000 by the end of August under a more relaxed general community quarantine scenario.

"Imposing stricter quarantine measures will have a huge impact on the number of daily Covid-19 cases," Rye said on Monday.

Meanwhile, more than 18 million people worldwide have been infected with the virus since it first emerged in China late last year and it shows no sign of slowing down.

Brazil is driving a surge in Latin America and the Caribbean where infections have topped five million.

South America's largest country has recorded 2.75 million cases, and close to half the region's more than 202,000 deaths.

Only the United States has been worse affected.

Desperate to contain the spread and relieve pressure on overwhelmed hospitals, some countries such as the Philippines have resorted to reimposing economically painful restrictions on travel and businesses.

More than 27 million people on the main island of Luzon, including the capital Manila, went back into a partial lockdown for weeks from Tuesday.

People have been told to stay home unless they need to go out to buy essential goods, for exercise or for work after the number of recorded infections surged past 100,000.

With only 24 hours' notice of the shutdown, many found themselves stranded in Manila and unable to get back to their hometowns after public transport and domestic flights were halted.

"We've run out of money. We can't leave the airport because we don't have any relatives here," said Ruel Damaso, a 36-year-old construction worker trying to return to the southern city of Zamboanga.

"We will have to stay here for two weeks until we get our flights back." - AFP
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