One of the many areas where cases of the coronavirus are increasing is the Philippines. As the numbers climb, the challenges are especially intense for the capital city of Manila.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has extended a community quarantine directive for metropolitan Manila. It was set to expire this week, but now will last at least until the end of the month — meaning that “nonessential businesses” will remain closed.
Some critics wanted a stricter lockdown, and an administration official says that if the COVID-19 numbers don’t improve, that may be coming next month.
The stay-at-home orders were eased in the capital starting in June — and coronavirus cases in the country have tripled since then. Only Indonesia has had more cases in Southeast Asia, but the pace of new cases has been growing faster in the Philippines in recent weeks.
A presidential spokesman says hospital occupancy in Manila is now hovering around 70%.
A week ago, it was less than 50%.
This week, the Secretary of Public Works and Highways became the third member of the cabinet to test positive for the coronavirus. The other two have recovered — including the Secretary of Education, who confirmed this week that plans are still underway to start school classes by late August.
The Secretary says face to face interactions will be limited, and students will use a combination of resources as part of the school plan — including computers, printed materials, and the radio.