Philippines waging ‘losing battle’ against coronavirus as cases top 100,000

Jeepney drivers who lost livelihoods amid the Covid-19 outbreak beg for financial support on a roadside in Manila Philippines

Passengers wearing face masks for protection against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) maintain social distancing while riding on a train in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, July 21, 2020.

The Southeast Asian country on Sunday reported 5,032 additional coronavirus infections, its largest single-day increase on record, taking the country's confirmed cases to 103,185.

President Rodrigo Duterte was scheduled to meet key cabinet members on Sunday to discuss a call by medical frontliners' groups to put the capital Manila, which accounts for the bulk of infections, back under a stricter lockdown, his spokesman said.

In a statement issued following an unscheduled meeting late on Saturday of the government's coronavirus task force to address the concerns of doctors and nurses, the Department of Health said it would come up with an updated Covid-19 strategy within seven days.

Even as Manila and surrounds has the highest number of active virus cases, more businesses including gyms and drive-in cinemas have been allowed to reopen.

They expressed fears to Duterte that the Philippine coronavirus crisis may worsen like in the U.S. But infections have since jumped fivefold to 93,354, with deaths more than doubling to 2,023.

"It seems that the current responses are not working because the cases are rising", Bishop Broderick Pabillo said.

Roque said the government was conducting a "delicate balancing act between public health and the economic health of the nation".

Critics have accused Duterte and his top officials of failing to immediately launch massive virus tests to be able to identify and contain hot spots early on, especially when they placed the capital under a police-enforced lockdown in mid-March.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the strict lockdown in metro Manila had served its goal and other strategies need to be identified, including "stringent enforcement of minimum public health standards, massive targeted testing, intensified tracing and quarantine of close contacts".



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