This article was updated on 4th August.
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The first case recorded in the Philippines was a Chinese woman on 30th January quickly followed by confirmation that a Chinese man had died from Covid-19 on 1st February, the first death outside of China. There were no further reported cases until 6th March which was also the first recorded local transmission. It is likely that there were far more cases within the country than these as little testing was being carried out.
The Philippines has recorded 316,648 cases, 254,617 recovered and 5,616 deaths (2nd October. The latest statistics are available on our COVID-19 and South East Asia page.
The Response from the Philippines
On 9th March, 2 days after being requested to do so by the Department of Health, the Philippine president declared that the country was now under a “State of Public Health Emergency”. Three days later the president raised the countries emergency level to “Code Red Sub-Level 2” enforcing a partial lockdown in Manila.
On 16th March the lockdown was enforced in a number of regions throughout the country and the following day the country was placed in a “State of Calamity” for 6 months. This included price control on essential goods, calamity funds and interest free loans and hazard pay for key workers.
The lockdown began to ease from 15th May in some areas although the situation became confused as different areas had widely differing measures in place, measures were changed frequently and in some cases communications on the extent of measures was incorrect.
The strictest form of lockdown was known as ECQ (Enhanced Community Lockdown”. No-one aged under 21 or over 60 was allowed out of their homes at any time and others had a strictly enforced curfew from 10.00pm to 5.00am and only one person was allowed to leave home at a time. All non-essential businesses were closed.
The Current Situation
The easing of the lockdown seems to have help fuel new waves of infections with the country reporting more deaths on one day during July than any other South-East Asian country. Many hospitals, especially in Manila, are reported to be struggling to cope with the number of admissions.
People have been encouraged to report any infected people who may not have reported their illness to the authorities and the police have been used to accompany medics and to transfer infected people to isolation facilities.
New local lockdowns have been implemented and the president has warned people will be arrested if they are spreading the virus or refusing to wear facemasks or socially distance. He had previously warned that people not abiding by lockdown rules would be shot.
Testing has been increased but still has limited numbers and delays due to the population spread.
The FCO currently advises against all but essential travel to the Philippines and anyone returning from the Philippines would need to self-isolate for 14 days. Foreign nationals are also currently prohibited from entering the country although there are plans to allow people with ling-term visas to enter the Philippines from 1st August under a number of conditions.
Update 4th August
Manila and four surrounding provinces have been put back into lockdown as the country has seen a surge in infections.
Sunday 2nd August saw a record 5,032 infections which was surpassed on 4th August as another 6,352 were confirmed including an additional 11 deaths.
A reported 27 million people have been affected by the stay at home orders restricting people to their homes except for buying essential goods or outdoor exercise. All public transport has been suspended and domestic flights are no longer operating.
In our next article we will look at the response in Indonesia.
Talk to us
Do you have any experience of how Philippines or other South-East Asian countries reacted to Covid-19 or where you in country at the time of the outbreak. Let us know your thoughts and experiences.
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