The Philippine government on Tuesday extended a lockdown imposed on the country's most populous island for two more weeks, in a bid to delay a peak in coronavirus infections.
The lockdown on the island of Luzon, where the capital Manila is located, was supposed to be effective until April 14 but has been extended until April 30.
Luzon is home to some 57 million people, more than half of the country's entire population, making it the fourth-most densely populated island in the world.
President Rodrigo Duterte approved the lockdown extension after recommendations from an inter-agency Covid-19 task force, government official Karlo Nograles said.
The extension would give the government time to boost the country's capacity to test for the virus and isolate those who are sick, Nograles said during his morning briefing.
‘So that is the game plan. We have to push [the peak in infections] because we have not seen the peak yet,’ he said.
Extending the lockdown would also allow the public to ‘transition to the new normal,’ Nograles continued.
He added that even at the end of April, the lockdown would not really be lifted, it would be more of a relaxation of the ‘enhanced community quarantine’ by April 30.
‘Social distancing still has to happen. Testing still has to happen, and isolation also has to happen.’ On Monday, the Department of Health reported 414 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Philippines, bringing the country's total to 3,660. Eleven additional deaths were also recorded, pushing the death toll to 163, while 73 patients have recovered.
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