MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday partial coronavirus restrictions in and around the capital region will be extended for another month until Oct. 31 to keep the spread of COVID-19 in check.
The Philippines reported 3,073 new COVID-19 cases and 37 fatalities that day, taking its total count to 307,288 cases – the highest in Southeast Asia – with 5,381 deaths.
Members of the government’s coronavirus task force said they could not afford to be complacent even as they would like the economy to continue to move forward.
In a late-night televised address, Duterte also appealed to the country’s top telecommunication firms to “do a better job” with public schools set to reopen with virtual classes on Oct. 5. Preparations for the resumption of classes have been hit by problems including access, availability and speed of data services.
Duterte said in July he would not allow face-to-face classes until a vaccine becomes available.
Most businesses, including dine-in services, have been allowed to reopen since Manila exited strict lockdown measures on Aug. 19 to support the economy, which fell into recession for the first time in 29 years in the second quarter.
People must still wear masks, face shields and observe one-metre social distancing, while children, the elderly and pregnant women are urged to stay at home.
The government has tested more than 3.4 million people and aims to test 10 million – nearly a tenth of the population – by the second quarter of next year.
Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Hugh Lawson