MANILA, Philippines (AP) – The Philippine president has maintained a strict shutdown in a central city that he described as a new hotspot for the corona virus, while placing the capital and the rest of the country in lighter quarantines.
President Rodrigo Duterte made the announcement on TV on Tuesday evening and extended to three-month lockouts and quarantines that officials call successful, but which his critics say are ridden by failure and confusion.
The Philippines has one of the most COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia with over 37,500 infected people, including 1,266 deaths.
Duterte blamed the city of Cebu, which will remain closed until July 15, for many violations of the rules that led to spikes of infection.
Cebu is now the hotspot for COVID. Why? Many of you have not been followed. So don’t get mad at me, ”he said.
The Philippines closed most businesses in March, but recently reopened the economy as unemployment soared and massive public resources for cash and food aid to the poor declined.
In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:
– India reported 18,653 new cases of coronavirus and 507 deaths in the past 24 hours, with June proving to be the worst month since the pandemic hit the country in late January. The total number of cases in India reached 585,493 on Wednesday, with more than 400,000 in June alone. The Indian Ministry of Health said 17,400 people died. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed concern about negligence in keeping social distance and wearing masks.
– South Korea plans to include religious facilities with nightclubs, hostess bars and karaoke rooms as “high-risk” locations for the spread of COVID-19 after a series of broadcasts related to church gatherings. Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said on Wednesday that more than 40% of the country’s recently confirmed infections in the past three days can be traced to places of worship. He begged people to refrain from religious gatherings and criticized churches and other facilities for not using proper prevention measures. High-risk facilities are advised to take or otherwise enforce anti-virus measures and register visitors with smartphone QR codes so that virus carriers can be tracked.
– China reported just three new cases on Wednesday, all in Beijing, the capital, where an outbreak appears to have spilled during intensive testing and case-finding last month. No new deaths were reported, keeping the toll rate at 4,634 out of 83,534 COVID-19 cases recorded since the virus was first discovered in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. With 328 cases reported since June 11, Beijing has restored some preventative measures, suspended classes for schoolchildren, and conducted 8.3 million virus tests among the city’s more than 20 million inhabitants.
Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed without permission.