UPDATE 4-Philippines eases one of world's toughest curbs amid spike in coronavirus cases

UPDATE 4-Philippines eases one of world's toughest curbs amid spike in coronavirus cases

Reuters  | May 29, 2020 00:50

UPDATE 4-Philippines eases one of world's toughest curbs amid spike in coronavirus cases

* Relaxed restrictions to take effect from June 1
* Yet to meet goal of testing 30,000 people a day
* Records highest daily tally of infections on Thursday

(Recasts lead, adds government officials' comments)
By Karen Lema
MANILA, May 28 (Reuters) - Philippine President Rodrigo
Duterte eased one of the toughest and longest lockdowns in the
world for residents in the capital Manila from June 1, even as
the country saw its biggest spike in coronavirus cases on
Thursday.
The Philippines reported 539 infections on Thursday, the
highest daily tally since it recorded its first case of the
coronavirus in January. The new cases brought the nationwide
tally to 15,588, of which 921 have led to deaths.
"For me, this does not look bad," Duterte said in a late
night televised address, citing what he described as the
country's low mortality rate.
His health minister, Francisco Duque, said 90% of the
country's COVID-19 cases are "mild," and only less than 2% are
"severe and critical."
Manila's lockdown will this weekend surpass the 76-day
quarantine of Wuhan, the Chinese city where the first outbreak
of the coronavirus was detected.
The easing could help to reduce damage to an economy that is
facing its deepest contraction in 34 years. The economy
unexpectedly shrank 0.2% in the first quarter and is expected to
fare worse in the second quarter as the pandemic-induced
lockdown shuttered businesses and sapped domestic demand.
Mobility data from Apple for people driving shows how
sharply activity slowed in the Philippines and how low it has
remained compared to countries which also imposed tough
lockdowns such as Italy and India.
The more relaxed rules will be in place from June 1 to 15,
and local officials can still place communities deemed as high
risk under lockdown.
Health authorities have conducted nearly 290,000 tests since
January, equivalent to about 0.26% of the 107 million
population.
Gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed. Workplaces,
shops and some public transportation will reopen and movement in
and out of Manila will be permitted, provided the people wear
masks and observe social distancing.
Schools, universities, tourist destinations and dine-in
restaurants will stay closed, however, while stay-at-home orders
will remain for the elderly and children.

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