‘Normality will return in December’: Duterte extends coronavirus curbs in Philippines

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

‘Normality will return in December’: Duterte extends coronavirus curbs in Philippines

The heads of about 40 medical societies called on President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday to return metro Manila to strict community quarantine for two weeks to ease a rise in infections and allow health workers to recover from exhaustion.

The Philippines said on Sunday it would reimpose a stricter lockdown in and around its capital for two weeks from midnight of August 4, as the country struggles to contain coronavirus infections that have jumped to more than 100,000 cases.

The health professionals said the country's health care system has been overwhelmed, with hospitals temporarily closing to decongest and health workers falling ill.

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"We are waging a losing battle against COVID-19", it said.

The presidential palace said it will include input from stakeholders in future meetings of the coronavirus task force but that community quarantine alone was insufficient.

Duterte last week said he had made a plea to Chinese President Xi Jinping to make the Philippines among the first to receive vaccines should one be developed.

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The Philippines' health department vowed on Sunday to update its game plan against Covid-19 within a week and sought to beef up the healthcare workforce in the capital Manila, where medical frontliners are calling for reviving strict lockdowns.

The capital region, provinces south of it, and cities in the central Philippines have been under quarantine restrictions since June, limiting movements of the elderly and children, and the operations of businesses from restaurants to gyms. But infections have since jumped fivefold to 98,232, with deaths more than doubling to 2,039.

Still, the health department said it supports the healthcare workers' call for a "timeout" and would "proactively lead the implementation of effective localised lockdowns".

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Manila and nearby provinces account for two-thirds of the Philippine economy, among the fastest-growing in Asia before the pandemic.

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