Asia Minute: Locking Down Manila — Again

Aug 4, 2020

A disturbing pattern is emerging in several spots around the world: a location that had had been making progress in the fight against COVID-19 is forced to impose restrictions because of a surge in cases. That’s what’s happening in the Philippine this week.

Starting today, the capital city of the Philippines is moving back to lockdown. Manila and four surrounding provinces will be under what the government calls a “modified enhanced community quarantine” for at least the next two weeks.

In practical terms, that means residents are only supposed to go out for essential goods or exercise.

The only retail stores that can open are pharmacies and grocery stores.

No dining in at restaurants, and forget about gyms, barber shops, or internet cafes. And here’s a big one, public transport will be shut down and essential businesses will need to provide transport for their employees.

The Philippines imposed strict limits on movement in the early spring, and eased those rules on June 1st.

Since then, new cases of COVID-19 and deaths have shot higher — leading the Philippine Medical Association to call for a “consolidated and definitive plan of action” on the part of the national government, and to “recalibrate strategies against COVID-19.”

Health officials say more than 5,000 medical workers have become infected with COVID-19 — 500 in the past week alone.

Researchers at the University of the Philippines say the restrictions starting today should prevent at least 50,000 new cases.