Philippines Nixes Hard Lockdown Amid Record Virus Count

Philippine authorities prefer smaller, targeted restrictions over a hard lockdown to support the economy while trying to contain surging coronavirus infections.

“It will be a disaster for the country if you close everything,” President Rodrigo Duterte said in a live-streamed briefing Monday evening.

Economic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said “careful and calibrated” moves are needed to preserve jobs. “Reverting back to a stricter and blanket community quarantine is no longer an option,” he said in a statement on Monday.

The stand comes as the nation reported 8,019 Covid-19 cases on Monday, its highest daily case count, bringing the total to more than 670,000. Previous records were reached last Friday and Saturday.

The Philippines Has Become Southeast Asia’s Covid Hotspot: Chart

The government has limited travel into and out of the capital and surrounding regions -- the nation’s main economic engines -- for about two weeks, but movement within the area will remain unimpeded. The pandemic has throttled the country’s economy, which is tipped to remain in recession this quarter.

Vaccine Supply

About 2.4 million coronavirus vaccine doses from AstraZeneca Plc and Sinovac Biotech Ltd. are expected to arrive within the month, Carlito Galvez, who heads the nation’s vaccine procurement efforts, said in the same briefing.

Moderna Inc. on Monday evening announced a new agreement with the Philippines for 7 million additional doses, adding that the nation has now secured a total 20 million doses from the pharmaceutical company.

Galvez said a supply deal may be signed this week with Johnson & Johnson, from which the nation plans to buy 5 million doses. Talks with Russia’s Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology will also start this week for the supply of as many as 15 million, he said.

The country has vaccinated about 369,049 health workers as of Monday, Galvez said, adding that it targets to inoculate as many as one million people weekly in the next two months. It began vaccinations earlier this month.

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