Lockdown extended in Philippines amid COVID-19 case surge

Lockdown extended in Philippines amid COVID-19 case surge
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A lockdown in several provinces of the Philippines including its capital, Manila, was extended by one week on Monday as officials grapple with a surge of cases blamed on new variants of COVID-19.

The Associated Press reported a spokesperson for President Rodrigo Duterte's administration made the announcement on a local news channel while adding that the government was setting up mobile intensive care units around Manila.

“No one could have probably foreseen how infectious these new variants are and as a result of which we have these ballooning numbers,” Harry Roque said, according to the AP.


Numerous hospitals in the country have begun refusing walk-in patients due to a spike in hospitalizations, according to the news service, while others are facing staff shortages.

Duterte originally instituted the lockdown last week, banning all public gatherings, including religious services ahead of Easter weekend.

The government is still prioritizing health care workers in its vaccine rollout as it struggles to obtain more doses of COVID-19 vaccine. The country received its first batch in February, after delays, via a donation from China's government.

"Do not worry. Our goal is still to ensure that everybody will be vaccinated," Carlito Galvez, a government official heading up the country's vaccination program, said last week. "But while we do this, the government is prioritizing healthcare workers as they are the most exposed and the most at risk of getting COVID."

"More vaccines will arrive, we are sure of that. We just have to wait for our turns to be vaccinated," Galvez added.

Many experts have warned that slow progress in vaccinations among populations in poorer nations could contribute to new variants of COVID-19 emerging and an overall slower recovery from the pandemic.

“COVID-19 vaccines should be treated as a global public good and made available to all, rich and poor alike,” Duterte said in February, adding that “no one is safe until everyone is safe.”