Since the start of June, when most of the country emerged from one of the longest and strictest lockdowns on the planet, infections have quintupled, surpassing the 100,000 case mark.
On Sunday evening, President Rodrigo Duterte announced a reconfinement in the capital, Manila, as well as in four surrounding provinces, on the main island of Luzon.
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For the next two weeks, public transport, including minibuses, will be stopped and local flights will be interrupted.
The authorities have asked the population to stay at home, and only go out to buy basic necessities or exercise. Only a limited number of businesses can open and restaurants can only make deliveries.
“We weren’t up to it. Nobody expected this“said Duterte, who however rejected calls to dismiss Health Minister Francisco Duque.
“No one expected thousands of people to get sick on the same day“, he added.
A distress message to the nation
On Saturday, 80 medical associations warned in an open letter to the president that the Philippines was losing the battle against Covid-19, calling on the head of state to return to stricter containment, while the number of cases of contamination increase and hospitals, overwhelmed, refuse patients.
Health professionals address “a distress message to the nation, our health system has been overwhelmed“, wrote these associations which represent tens of thousands of doctors. Monday, these associations favorably welcomed the decision of the president, considering that it would give a respite to the medical staff.
The Philippines announced a record 5,032 cases on Sunday. Some 2,000 people in total have died from the disease in that country. More than 5,000 healthcare professionals have contracted the virus, including 500 in the past week alone, according to the Ministry of Health. Thirty-eight of them died.