Philippines extends coronavirus curbs in capital ahead of vaccine arrivals

  • >> Reuters
    Published: 2021-02-27 17:25:24 BdST

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Local officials wearing face masks and face shields as protection against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) stand near a community quarantine checkpoint in a village under local lockdown, in Pasay, Metro Manila, Philippines, Feb 25, 2021. REUTERS

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has extended coronavirus curbs in the capital until the end of March, as the country awaits the arrival of vaccines made by China's Sinovac Biotech and Britain's AstraZeneca , the presidential spokesman said on Saturday.

The Philippines will be last Southeast Asian nation to get its initial shipment of vaccines, made up of 600,000 Sinovac doses donated by China, arriving on Sunday, while the COVAX facility bringing in 525,600 AstraZeneca shots on Monday.

With Southeast Asia's second-highest tally of infections and deaths, the Philippines has suffered lengthy lockdowns, hitting an economy that was among Asia's fastest growing before the pandemic.

Curbs will stay for another month in Manila, which accounts for 40% of national economic output, the spokesman, Harry Roque, said in a statement. Also under partial curbs are Duterte's southern home city of Davao and the northern city of Baguio.

The curbs limit operations of businesses and public transport.

The decision follows 2,651 new virus infections reported on Friday, the highest daily increase in more than four months, and another new high of 2,921 new cases on Saturday.

Despite calls for the economy to be re-opened, Duterte had pledged to maintain curbs in the virus epicentre of Manila until mass vaccinations begin.

The Philippines is negotiating supply deals with seven manufacturers for 148 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, so it can inoculate 70 million adults, or two-thirds of its more than 108 million population.