| 20 May 2024, Monday |

Philippines prepares more hospitals beds with record COVID-19 cases

A top government official said on Sunday that the Philippines has ordered an increase in hospital beds and medical resources in and around the capital Manila, as the country established a new record for new COVID-19 infections.

Nearly 60% of the 28,707 cases were from the capital region, which has experienced a steady increase in admissions in recent days despite hospital capacity remaining below critical levels, according to official statistics.

Acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said in a statement that health officials were also urged to raise immunization rates beyond the region, with numerous regions falling behind.

Another 15 people died from COVID-19, the health ministry said in a bulletin, bringing the death toll to 52,150. The country has reported a total of more than 2.96 million cases since the pandemic started, among the highest in Southeast Asia.

Government offices including the Senate, the House of Representatives and the Presidential Communications Operations Office have announced temporary closures as a precaution after several of their staff have been infected.

The rise in COVID-19 cases prompted the government to tighten mobility curbs last week. President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened unvaccinated people with arrest if they disobey stay-at-home orders.

At the end of last year, 45% of the country’s 110 million people had been fully vaccinated. Under existing rules, unvaccinated people in the capital region can only step out of their homes for essential trips.