Typhoon Goni gaining strength as it heads to Philippines; Covid-19 cases rising to almost 379,000 as sports takes backseat

MANILA, Oct 30: Typhoon Goni continued to strengthen on its way to the Philippines, tracking a path similar to Molave that has killed dozens of people and damaged homes and crops in the Philippines and Vietnam.

Goni’s winds are forecast to reach 155 miles (249km) per hour by Saturday (Oct 31) morning, before weakening slightly as it approaches eastern philippines, according to the US Joint Typhoon Warning Centre, reports Bloomberg.

The eastern provinces of Aurora and Quezon may experience "very destructive” winds of up to 195 kilometres per hour when the typhoon makes landfall on Sunday evening or Monday morning, the local weather bureau said Friday in its 5 p.m. bulletin. The rice-producing central Luzon region is along Goni’s path.

Catanduanes island in eastern philippines has been placed under the lowest storm warning signal, and will experience strong breeze in the next 36 hours, the weather bureau said. A storm surge of up to 2 metres may be experienced in eastern coastal areas, it added.

Another typhoon, Atsani, is forecast to enter Philippine territory as early as Sunday, but is unlikely to bring severe weather to the country in the next three days, the local weather agency said.

The US measures wind speed on a different scale than most other countries, so its values tend to be higher.

Typhoon Molave left at least 22 people dead, damaged nearly 1.7 billion pesos (US$35 million) of farm output and more than 52,000 houses in the Philippines, according to authorities. In Vietnam, it has killed at least 23 people, damaged homes and crops, and may delay coffee harvesting.

Meanwhile, Xinhua said the Philippines' Department of Health (DOH) Friday reported 2,006 new confirmed cases of Covid-19, bringing the total number in the country to 378,933.

The DOH said 636 more patients recovered, raising the total number of recoveries to 330,457. The death toll climbed to 7,185 after 38 more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH added.

The Philippines has created a body to be headed by the DOH, which will oversee the immunisation programme in case a Covid-19 vaccine becomes available, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement on Friday.

The Philippine government plans to vaccinate around 20 million Filipinos for free.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said earlier the poor people and frontline workers such as policemen and soldiers are the priorities.

AFP In a year of coronavirus chaos for sports, the Philippines Football League has come up with an extreme solution: shortening the competition to just two weeks, with each team playing only once.

The league, postponed since March, kicked off behind closed doors on Wednesday in a bio-secure "bubble" at the National Training Centre, 40km (25 miles) south of the capital Manila.

United City were 1-0 winners against the Azkals Development Team, and Kaya FC Iloilo beat Maharlika Manila by the same scoreline as the league, delayed anew by a batch of positive tests and an incoming typhoon, finally got underway.

The unusual format of the competition, broadcast on social media and finishing on November 12, means the six teams have just one chance for a shot at the title, turning every game into a de facto final.

National team manager Don Palami said the streamlining is down to financial reasons with all officials, staff and players staying in hotels and then transported to games.

"It entails a lot of logistical work and financial requirements that the PFL, at this point in time, cannot meet," Palami told AFP.

Under normal conditions, each team would play the others four times but the effects of Covid-19 have made that impossible. The Philippines has been hit hard by the virus, with more than 378,000 confirmed infections and over 7,000 deaths.

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