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Asia Minute

Asia Minute: Manila public schools are taking a 'health break' for at least a week

Virus Outbreak Philippines January 2022
Aaron Favila/AP
/
AP
Medical Technologist Erika Alvarado performs a COVID-19 test on a patient who just delivered a baby outside a hospital in Manila, Philippines on Friday, Dec. 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Many students have been returning to school in the New Year. But there are a number of locations where plans to return have been delayed. And that includes the capital city of the Philippines.

There were no public school classes in the city of Manila on Friday.

The government has suspended classes for a week. The Mayor says it’s “declaring a health break” — no online teaching — just a week away from classes.

Many private schools are also closed.

A group called the Alliance of Concerned Teachers was urging a two-week break — and not just for the students.

The head of the organization told reporters an increasing number of teachers have been getting sick from COVID-19 since the start of the New Year.

The Omicron variant has led the most recent spike in cases — especially in Manila.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer reports an independent monitoring group called Octa Research has found that more than half of all the country’s new COVID cases are in the national capital.

The government is taking other steps to try to restrict the spread of the virus.

Unvaccinated residents of greater Manila will no longer be able to use public transport.

The move has drawn mixed reactions, with one human rights lawyer asking on Twitter, “How about people who are going to their vaccination sites? They are expected to walk?”

According to the latest government figures, fully vaccinated residents make up 48% of the population of the Philippines.

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