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The Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, has warned tighter restrictions may be needed to prevent the spread of the Delta variant across the country, after the first local cases were detected last week. “This is more vicious. It’s more aggressive and fatal,” Duterte said during a television address, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.
In Metro Manila, the Philippines’ national capital region, mayors are calling for restrictions on the movement of children to be reintroduced, preventing them from going to many public places. Children aged five and over were previously banned from spaces such as outdoor dining establishments, tourist sites and playgrounds, though these rules were relaxed earlier in July. Two of 11 local Delta cases were detected in Metro Manila, it was announced on Friday.
The Philippines previously had one of the world’s toughest lockdowns, which was at times brutally enforced by the police, military and local officials. People were put in dog cages, forced to sit in the sun for hours, and placed in coffins as punishment for breaking curfew rules.
The Delta strain has caused recent surges in cases across south-east Asia, including Indonesia, where hospitals are overwhelmed and reporting shortages of oxygen. The Philippines has banned all arrivals from Indonesia, and is reportedly also considering stopping travel from Thailand and Malaysia, which are also facing rising cases.
Health undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told local media the country has enough oxygen for now, but that the government was talking to manufacturers to increase supplies.
The Philippines experienced its worst outbreak around mid-April, when it recorded between 10,000 or 11,000 on average per day. On Monday, the country reported 5,651 cases and 72 fatalities.