Philippines: No strict lockdown despite big spike in Covid-19 cases as total nears 598,000

Women activists hold a rally near the Malacanang presidential palace to mark International Women's Day on Monday, March 8, 2021 in Manila, Philippines. The group said that they are holding Duterte's government accountable for the rise of unemployment, poverty and human rights violations during the Covid-19 pandemic. - AP

MANILA, March 8 (Xinhua): The Philippines' Department of Health (DOH) reported on Monday 3,356 new Covid-19 infections, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the South-East Asian country to 597,763.

The death toll climbed to 12,521 after five more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH said. It added 61 more patients recovered, raising the total number of recoveries to 545,912.

The Philippines, which has about 110 million population, has tested over eight million people since the disease emerged in January last year.

The Philippines has reported more than 3,000 daily cases for four days in a row.

"What we see right now is that there is a marked increase in the number of the cases and that people have to be very, very cautious," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told reporters in an online briefing.

Vergeire said the government would not reimpose the strictest regional lockdowns despite the spike of Metro Manila cases and some other regions.

"For now, we are not contemplating on having this regionwide enhanced community quarantine as what we had before. It is not the only measure that we can implement to prevent transmission," Vergeire said.

Instead, she said the DOH and the local government units agreed to step up "localized intensive responses" like the localized lockdowns in villages and areas with clusters of infections and increased visibility of enforcers "to remind people to comply with the minimum health protocols."

Vergeire blamed the spike of infections on the people's complacency in following the health protocols.

The Philippines has been under quarantine restrictions for nearly a year now. - Xinhua
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