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Philippines to extend night curfew in Manila to limit potential COVID-19 surge

·2 min read

MANILA (Reuters) -The Philippines will extend a night curfew in Manila amid a tightening of restrictions to combat a potential surge in cases of the Delta variant of the coronavirus, a government official said on Monday.

Metropolitan Manila, already subject to a six hour curfew from 10:00 p.m. (1400 GMT), will bring forward that curfew by two hours to 8:00 p.m. (1200 GMT), said Benjamin Abalos, chair of the region's governing body.

"This will stop the virus for the meantime. What's important is our hospitals don't get full," Abalos told a briefing.

Authorities have deployed police personnel to quarantine checkpoints in the capital region, where inbound and outbound travel will be restricted. Home to more than 13 million people, the region will be locked down from Aug. 6 to 20.

Infections in the Philippines exceeded 8,000 a day from Friday to Monday. Sunday's recorded tally of 8,735 infections was the highest since May 28.

In the central province of Cebu, the number of cases has overwhelmed healthcare facilities, city councillor David Tumulak told local media.

A surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the Delta variant has been rattling parts of Asia, including countries which had been relatively successful at containing the virus.

Just 200 cases of the Delta variant had been detected in the community, of which 17 were still active, Philippines' Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said, although genome testing capacity in the Southeast Asian country is limited.

Strict quarantine curbs could help cap the number of active COVID-19 cases to around 25,000 by the end of September, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.

In a weekly national address, President Rodrigo Duterte committed to providing vaccines to every Filipino. "It's just a matter of priority on hot spots like Manila. People are here so transmission is faster."

(Reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz and Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by James Pearson and Grant McCool)

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