Doctors in the Philippines yesterday appealed to the government to reimpose tighter movement restrictions in the area around Manila as COVID-19 cases continue to surge.
The heads of about 40 medical societies called on Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to bring back to Metro Manila strict community quarantine for two weeks to ease a rise in infections and allow health workers to recover from exhaustion.
“Healthcare workers are united in sounding a distressed signal,” Jose Santiago, president of Philippine Medical Association, said. “Our healthcare system has been overwhelmed.”
Doctors also want the Philippine Department of Health to be the lead agency in the fight against the pandemic and not leave its implementation to local government units.
Duterte on Friday kept the area around the capital under a more relaxed general community quarantine while imposing localized lockdowns on villages with high infection rates.
He said that Filipinos may return to their normal lives by December amid global progress in the search for a vaccine.
The Department of Health on Friday said there were 4,063 new COVID-19 cases, the highest single-day increase, bringing the total to 93,354 — the second-largest number of infections in Southeast Asia.
Even as Manila and the surrounding area have the highest number of active virus cases, more businesses including gyms and drive-in cinemas have been allowed to reopen.
Philippine Secretary of Finance Carlos Dominguez said the economy has started to recover and that consumers must start spending.
The continued spread means preventive measures are not effective and a two-week “time out” would allow authorities to come up with a comprehensive plan, Philippine College of Physicians vice president Maricar Limpin said.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the strict lockdown in Metro Manila had served its purpose 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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