The Philippines on Friday placed their capital region Manila under a two-week lockdown as the Southeast Asian country’s Ministry of Health reported 10,623 new cases of the coronavirus, the largest increase in a infection day for almost four months.
The Philippines is battling one of Asia’s largest COVID-19 outbreaks and has seen a steady rise in infections over the past two weeks that health officials have attributed to the highly contagious delta variant of the virus.
“National government and local governments should act aggressively, as if there is already community transmission,” Health Ministry spokeswoman Maria Rosario Vergeire said at a press conference, referring to the highly contagious variant.
The increase took the number of confirmed cases in the Philippines to more than 1.6 million, while the 247 additional deaths recorded on Friday brought the number of deaths in the country to 28,673.
To enforce the lockdown orders, police have set up quarantine checkpoints around the capital region of Manila, an urban sprawl of 16 cities home to more than 13 million people. Only 9.8 million people, or nearly 9% of the Philippines’ 110 million people, have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Manila officials said they would use the two-week lockdown to vaccinate four million people in the capital region. The Philippines aims to immunize up to 70 million people this year.
A total of 450 confirmed cases of the delta variant of COVID-19 have been detected in the Philippines. Experts believe the actual figure could be much higher, however, due to a lack of genome sequencing capacity in the country.
– From Reuters, last update 6:55 a.m. ET
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What is happening in the world
As of Friday morning, more than 200.9 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to the coronavirus tracker maintained by American University Johns Hopkins. The death toll worldwide was over 4.2 million.
In Europe, France’s highest court confirmed a new law requiring the public to hold a health pass to access bars and restaurants and health workers to get vaccinated by mid-September, saying it was in accordance with the founding charter of the republic.
Italy will require a vaccination pass for long-distance transport, including high-speed trains and ferries between regions, from September 1.
In Africa, the Pasteur Institute in Dakar in Senegal has reached an agreement with the American company MedInstill for the bottling of COVID-19 vaccines, according to an EU document, marking a step towards becoming a full-fledged manufacturer of vaccines against the coronavirus for Africa.
In the Asia Pacific region, China on Friday recorded 80 more locally transmitted COVID-19 cases, as the country seeks to control its largest outbreak since the original outbreak with a combination of lockdowns, mass testing and travel restrictions . Of the new cases, 58 were found in the eastern city of Yangzhou, Jiangsu province, where the highly contagious delta variant has spread among airport workers in the provincial capital of Nanjing.
The update came as the Chinese president pledged to deliver two billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the world this year, bolstering China’s commitment as the world’s largest vaccine exporter. The figure likely includes the 770 million doses that China has already donated or exported, and it is not clear whether it includes a COVAX deal for Chinese producers to provide 550 million doses.
Hundreds of millions of Chinese shots, the vast majority of which originate from Sinopharm and Sinovac, have already been administered to people in many countries around the world. However, one wonders if they adequately protect against the new highly transmissible delta variant.
In the Middle East, Iran reported 38,674 new cases on Thursday, down slightly from the single-day high of 39,357 recorded on Wednesday. The country, which faces a further rapid increase in cases, reported an additional 434 deaths on Thursday.
In the Americas, the United States is working to give additional booster shots of COVID-19 to Americans with compromised immune systems as quickly as possible, as cases of the new coronavirus continue to rise, the leading expert said Thursday American Infectious Disease Officer, Dr. Anthony Fauci.
United States joins Germany, France and Israel in giving booster shots, ignoring World Health Organization call to wait until more people around the world can receive their first injection.
– From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, latest update 6:50 a.m. ET