| 17 April 2024, Wednesday |

Philippines orders children back indoors as COVID-19 cases surge

The Philippines has imposed more restrictive measures and sent millions of children back into lockdown Friday as hospitals prepared for a spike in coronavirus cases fueled by the contagious Delta variant ravaging in neighboring countries.

The health department said that nearly half of the 47 cases of the more virulent strain detected so far were locally acquired, sparking fears of a sharp uptick in infections that have topped 1.5 million since the start of the pandemic.

“The Delta variant is more infectious and deadly,” said presidential spokesman Harry Roque as he announced tougher rules for the national capital region and four provinces where cases have spiked.

Along with tighter capacity limits on indoor dining, beauty salons and religious gatherings, children aged five to 17 have been told to stay home.

It comes two weeks after the government removed a ban on minors going outside that had been in place since March 2020 but often flouted.

The government has previously justified the draconian measure by citing the risk of youngsters catching the virus and infecting their elderly relatives.

The health department said checks were underway to ensure hospitals had enough beds, medicine, oxygen tanks and staff to deal with a possible surge in cases.

Record infections earlier this year had threatened to overwhelm health care facilities.

It comes as the Philippines strives to inoculate its population of 110 million due to tight global supplies and logistical challenges.

  • AFP