Extended lockdown in metro to depend on fund availability

METRO Manila would either remain under a strict lockdown or ease into a modified enhanced community quarantine starting this weekend, according to the presidential palace, as the government tries to contain a fresh surge in coronavirus infections spurred by a more contagious Delta variant. 

The decision to keep the enhanced quarantine after Aug. 20 would depend on whether there are funds to help poor Filipinos affected by the lockdown, presidential spokesman Herminio L. Roque, Jr. told an online news briefing on Thursday. 

“The question is will there be state aid?” he said in Filipino. 

The two-week strict lockdown in the capital region that started on Aug. 6 will expire after Friday, when President Rodrigo R. Duterte is expected to announce the lockdown levels nationwide, he said. 

“We seem to be on track because cases did not spike beyond the projections,” Mr. Roque said in mixed English and Filipino. “If we continue with our planned course of action, it will always be below 20,000,” he added, referring to the daily infection tally. 

“The figures are very encouraging as of today,” he added. 

The Department of Health (DoH) reported 14,895 coronavirus infections on Thursday, bringing the total to 1.8 million. 

The death toll rose to 30,881 after 258 more patients died, while recoveries increased by 8,248 to 1.65 million, it said in a bulletin.  

There were 111,720 active cases, 95.3% of which were mild, 18% did not show symptoms, 1.3% were severe, 0.87% were moderate and 0.7% were critical. 

The agency said 387 duplicates had been removed from the tally, 385 of which were recoveries. Two recoveries were reclassified as active cases, while 180 recoveries were tagged as deaths. Two laboratories failed to submit data on Aug. 17. 

The Philippines was set to take delivery on Thursday of about three million doses of the vaccine made by Sinovac Biotech Ltd. from China, Mr. Roque said. The government paid for the shipment. 

On Saturday, 582,500 doses of the vaccine made by AstraZeneca Plc are also expected to arrive, Mr. Roque said. About 739,200 doses of the vaccine made by Sinopharm Ltd. will arrive this week, he added. 

About 29.13 million vaccine doses have been given out as of Aug. 19, 16.25 million of which were first doses.  

Vivencio B. Dizon, deputy chief enforcer of the country’s pandemic plan, said the government aims to give out 15 million vaccine doses this month. 

About 3.2 million vaccine doses have been given out in Metro Manila this month, he said at the same briefing. He added that 41% of the adult population in Metro Manila had been fully vaccinated as of Aug. 18. 

The government targets to inoculate 50% of the region’s adult population by the end of the month, he said. 

Health authorities this week said the government would prioritize the housemates of seniors and seriously ill people for vaccination. 

Under the policy, one housemate would be allowed to get a coronavirus vaccine shot. 

The vaccination strategy was adopted as the country struggles to inoculate its entire adult population amid a fresh spike in coronavirus infections believed to be triggered by the highly contagious Delta variant. 

Experts have not yet recommended that children get vaccinated against the coronavirus. Vaccinating people as young as 19 could deprive eligible people higher in the government’s priority list, DoH said. 

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