Philippines to strengthen COVID-19 lockdown

The government of the Philippines will raise coronavirus lockdown measures to the highest level on Monday for Manila and surrounding provinces.

The change is in response to a surge in case numbers since the beginning of this month. The daily tally on Friday hit an all-time-high of 9,838.

The measures announced on Saturday include a strict one-week lockdown for the capital and its four neighboring provinces. It is the first time since last May that restrictions will be at the highest of four levels.

The government will ban outings, except for shopping for essential items such as food and medicines. No outings are allowed between 6 p.m. and 5 a.m. the following morning.

Companies are urged to limit the number of employees who commute to the minimum.

After the announcement, people flocked to supermarkets in Manila to stock up canned foods, instant noodles, and toilet paper, among other daily essentials.

The government is also watching out for an emerging coronavirus variant. A new variant has been detected in the Philippines, which is different from any of the variants that were first detected in Britain, South Africa, and Brazil.

The country has been under a lockdown for over a year to fight the pandemic.