Philippines announces lockdown in and around Manila

 Thursday, April 1, 2021

The Philippines ordered more than 25 million people in and around Manila into a coronavirus lockdown, reimposing the restrictions of last year as the Philippines logged a record 9,595 new Covid-19 cases and active infections rose to 118,122.

The renewed restrictions are likely to sharpen criticism of the government’s response to the pandemic. The government for its part has sought to blame “pandemic fatigue” and emerging variants of the disease, including one from Hong Kong.

The enhanced community quarantine will last seven days from Monday until Easter Sunday, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said, citing the recommendation of the country’s coronavirus task force, which has been widely blamed for mismanaging the pandemic response.

 An “intensified house-to-house search for those who have symptoms” will be conducted, Roque said. Curfews will be reimposed from 6pm until 5am in the National Capital Region (NCR) and the neighbouring provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal. The country’s major institutions, such as Congress, the judiciary, the Philippine National Police, the armed forces and the Catholic Church, previously announced their own lockdowns.

The total number of active infections has more than tripled since February 26, and more than half of active infections have been recorded in the NCR. It is the worst spike in the Philippines since the strict lockdown was imposed on Metropolitan Manila and the same four provinces on March 15 last year.

Earlier this year, the worst of the pandemic appeared to be behind the Philippines. On January 26, daily infections had dropped to 908, leading to eased restrictions on gyms, mall-shopping, cinemas, indoor dining and tourism.

A week before the March 15 anniversary of the lockdown, which health secretary Francisco Duque called “the longest among the countries in the world”, the Duterte administration publicly congratulated itself.

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