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Asia Minute

Asia Minute: A Pandemic Tale of Two Cities

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AP Photo/Aaron Favila
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The distance from Manila to Cebu City is just a little bit further than from Lihue to Hilo. But the two Philippine cities are in different stages of fighting the spread of the coronavirus.

Manila is still under severe restrictions — more than 70% of its hospital beds are occupied.

Later this week, a new system of alerts begins — divided into five very localized levels.

The idea: lockdowns in areas of high community spread where hospital space is “critical”; if conditions are less severe, so are restrictions.

About 350 miles away in Cebu City, those who are vaccinated can skip some restrictions. Anyone who is even partially vaccinated can now eat indoors at restaurants — or go to a spa.

The head of the city’s Emergency Operations Center says the move will “motivate people to get vaccinated.”

The Philippine Inquirer reports that six weeks ago, COVID-19 wards in Cebu hospitals were fully occupied — today they’re at about 50% capacity.

City health officials say effective contact tracing and isolation for even mild cases brought down those numbers.

The government also says the vaccination rate in Cebu City is now 30%—still relatively low, but about twice the national average.

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