Philippine economy fears as coronavirus curbs reintroduced

The restrictions, due to take effect from Tuesday, are being reinstated after a group of doctors and nurses warned that the health care system could collapse. (File/AFP)
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Updated 03 August 2020

Philippine economy fears as coronavirus curbs reintroduced

  • The Philippine economy had been one of Asia’s fastest growing before the pandemic but is now on the brink of recession
  • The country recorded a single-day record of 5,032 new infections on Sunday

MANILA: The Philippines stock market tumbled on Monday after the government reimposed coronavirus lockdown measures in and around Manila in response to fresh outbreaks, dashing hopes of a swifter economic recovery.
The restrictions, due to take effect from Tuesday, are being reinstated after a group of doctors and nurses warned that the health care system could collapse as a result of surging COVID-19 cases.
“It’s a bitter but necessary pill given the plight of our medical frontliners,” said Francis Lim, president of the Management Association of the Philippines. “We hope the government will deep dive into our COVID-19 strategy and find more effective ways to execute it.”
The Philippine economy had been one of Asia’s fastest growing before the pandemic but is now on the brink of recession. The main stock index fell as much as 3.9% on Monday, its lowest in more than two months.
Quarterly growth data is due on Thursday and economists expect a deeper contraction compared with the 0.2% contraction decline in the first quarter as the pandemic-induced lockdown shuttered businesses and sapped domestic consumption, a main driver of growth.
“We reiterate that the Philippines is indeed headed into a severe crash landing with the probability of the economy returning to its former glory any time soon now declining by the day,” said Nicholas Mapa, economist at ING bank.
The country recorded a single-day record of 5,032 new infections on Sunday, taking total confirmed cases of COVID-19 to around 103,000.
Case numbers have grown exponentially since authorities relaxed a previous lockdown in June and the Philippines is now close to overtaking Indonesia as the country with the highest number of infections in Southeast Asia.
The government announced late on Sunday it was placing metro Manila and nearby provinces such as Laguna, Cavite, Rizal and Bulacan under so-called “Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine” for two weeks from Tuesday.
Public transport will be barred, working from home will be instituted where possible, and only one person per household allowed out for essential goods.


Strict mask, visor rules make Philippine commuters sweat

Updated 20 September 2020

Strict mask, visor rules make Philippine commuters sweat

  • It is compulsory to wear both masks and plastic shields in indoor public spaces and on public transport in the national capital to curb the spread of the coronavirus

MANILA: In the sweltering heat and humidity, 31-year-old Caitlyn Tojanes grumbles about having to wear a face shield over her mask as she waits in line for her bus in the Philippine capital Manila.
“It’s uncomfortable. Combined with the long queues it means we get to work already tired and bathed in sweat,” said Tojanes, whose commute involves three buses and takes several hours.
But she is resigned to the new normal in the Philippines, where it is now compulsory to wear both masks and plastic shields in indoor public spaces and on public transport to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
“With Covid, it’s up to the people to maintain discipline,” said Tojanes, who works as a store manager in the sprawling capital of 12 million where most of the country’s infections have been recorded.
“People should not put the entire burden on the government. We must practice self-discipline.”
The latest measure comes as the country struggles to contain the virus outbreak, recording the highest number of confirmed cases in Southeast Asia with more than 283,000 infections and over 4,900 deaths.
Six months after tough restrictions were introduced to curb the contagion — including stay-at-home orders, travel bans and no talking on buses and trains — infections are still rising by several thousand every day.
Some measures have been eased to help kickstart the devastated economy.
“It’s a big adjustment having to wear a mask and a face shield and having to wash your hands with alcohol each time you touch something,” said Jeff Langurayan, 31, his voice slightly muffled by the layers of material and plastic over his face.
But he accepts the need for precautions.
“A lot of people have died and you do not know what will hit you and what effect it would have on your body.”