Millions to return to lockdown in Manila as coronavirus cases surge

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Tens of millions of people in and around the Philippine capital will go back to a strict lockdown from Tuesday, threatening incomes and hopes for reviving a once dynamic economy as authorities take drastic measures to halt surging virus cases.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, the Philippines was one of Asia's fastest growing economies, but tough restrictions from mid-March to May pushed it to the brink of recession, and hopes for a swifter recovery are looking bleak with the return of measures set to squeeze commerce.

The lockdown in Manila and nearby provinces is being reinstated for an initial two weeks after a prominent medical group warned the healthcare system could collapse from soaring Covid-19 cases that scaled new records on four straight days until Monday.

"It's a bitter but necessary pill given the plight of our medical frontliners," said Francis Lim, president of the Management Association of the Philippines.

"We hope the government will deep dive into our Covid-19 strategy and find more effective ways to execute it."

More than 18 million people worldwide have been infected with the virus since it first emerged in China late last year and it shows no sign of slowing down.

More than 27 million people on the main island of Luzon, including the capital Manila, went back into a partial lockdown for weeks from Tuesday.

People have been told to stay home unless they need to go out to buy essential goods, for exercise or for work after the number of recorded infections surged past 100,000.

With only 24 hours' notice of the shutdown, many found themselves stranded in Manila and unable to get back to their hometowns after public transport and domestic flights were halted.

"We've run out of money. We can't leave the airport because we don't have any relatives here," said Ruel Damaso, a 36-year-old construction worker trying to return to the southern city of Zamboanga.

"We will have to stay here for two weeks until we get our flights back."

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Updated: August 4, 2020 02:55 PM

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