In Brief: Manila in lockdown again as intensive care units fill up

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A military official secures a location during a COVID-19 lockdown in Muntinlupa, a city in the Metropolitan Manila region of the Philippines. Photo by: Minette Rimando / ILO Asia-Pacific / CC BY-NC-ND

Metropolitan Manila, the Philippines’ national capital region, is in lockdown starting Monday as another surge in coronavirus cases fills up hospitals, with most intensive care units now 70% to 100% occupied, according to the country’s Health Department.

The Philippines has seen a rise in COVID-19 this month — largely in the capital and some nearby provinces — with an average of more than 7,800 new cases per day in the past week. This marks a significant jump from the average of more than 2,000 cases per day during the final week of February. On Monday, the country recorded over 10,000 new cases, bringing the national total to nearly 732,000 cases since the start of the outbreak.

The Philippines has the second-highest number of cases in Southeast Asia, after Indonesia.

Source: Philippine Department of Health

Why it matters: The government decided to impose another “enhanced community quarantine” in the capital and nearby provinces to ease the burden on the health system and reduce transmission. The Philippines first went into lockdown in March 2020. Since then, it has seen relaxed quarantine measures and rolled out COVID-19 vaccinations.

But just over 656,000 vaccine doses had been administered as of Saturday, reaching less than 1% of the population, Health Department officials said. Health workers have been prioritized for vaccination. Next in line are people with certain medical conditions and adults ages 60 and above. However, some celebrities, government officials, and others from low-priority groups have reportedly jumped the queue.

About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.