The Philippines issued a record of 6,352 new COVID-19 infections Tuesday, steering the healthcare system to the brink of collapse.
Following the second-highest number of cases in Southeast Asia, President Rodrigo Duterte announced new lockdown restrictions on Sunday that will cover its capital, Manila, and its four surrounding provinces.
The new lockdown comes after 80 medical associations on Saturday called on the president to toughen restrictions to slow the spread of the virus, which has killed over 2,100 across the country and pressured hospitals in some areas to turn down patients.
President of the Philippine Medical Association, Jose Santiago, claimed “health workers are suffering burnout with seemingly endless number of patients trooping to […] hospitals for emergency care and admission. We are waging a losing battle against COVID-19 and we need to draw up a consolidated and definitive plan of action.”
Back Into Lockdown
Doctors hope the new lockdown restrictions — targeting more than 27 million people — will alleviate workers’ stress and strain on the country’s healthcare system. More than 5,000 medical workers have contracted the virus, 500 of which were reported last week.
Doctors say poor detection, isolation, and contact tracing has led to the country’s crisis, despite having endured one of the longest lockdowns compared to other countries in the area. Yet, the Philippines has reported outbreaks among construction sites and industrial facilities that target frontline workers, a reoccurring crisis seen in many countries.
The total number of infections is predicted to reach 200,000 by the end of August, according to the University of the Philippines.
Police have urged people who have tested positive for the virus and cannot self-isolate at home, to turn to government-run quarantine facilities to prevent further cases.