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Philippines sees largest spike in infections, will still ease curbs

MANILA/JAKARTA The Philippines saw its biggest spike in coronavirus cases yesterday, with 539 new infections recorded.

The fresh cases brought the nationwide tally to 15,588, of which 921 have led to deaths.

The numbers are expected to rise further, the Health Ministry said, as it ramps up testing to meet its target of 30,000 Covid-19 tests daily.

Despite that, President Rodrigo Duterte has decided to accept the recommendations of the coronavirus task force to ease curbs in Manila yesterday as the economy faces its steepest contraction in 34 years.

Manila's lockdown would have this weekend surpassed the 76-day quarantine of Wuhan, the Chinese city where thevirus was detected.

The more relaxed rules will be in place from June 1 to 15, and local officials can still place communities deemed as high risk under lockdown.

Under the new rules, mass transportation will be allowed on a limited capacity, while bus and jeepney operations will remain suspended. The Metro's train systems will also be allowed to run, as well as shuttles of private companies, transport network vehicle services and point-to-point buses.

Residents will be allowed to leave their homes - except for those aged below 21 and those 60 and older - to limit infections. Mass gathering activities remain prohibited.

In Indonesia, hospitals in its second largest city of Surabaya have been overwhelmed by a surge of new cases, forcing them to turn patients away, the Indonesian Medical Association said yesterday.

At least two city hospitals designated to treat the disease in East Java province have been inundated with patients.

Chairman of the East Java branch of the Indonesian Medical Association Sutrisno said: "I am worried that the cases in East Java will be the same as, or even tower above, Jakarta."

Since May 1, the number of cases in the province has risen more than 300 per cent to 4,313.

There were 687 new cases yesterday, bringing the total number to 24,538. Indonesia also confirmed 23 new deaths, bringing the total to 1,496.

Malaysia reported 10 cases yesterday, raising the total to 7,629 cases. As there were no new deaths, the number of fatalities remains at 115.

Thailand yesterday reported 11 cases and no deaths, bringing its total to 3,065 cases and 57 fatalities. - THE STAR, REUTERS, THE PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ANN

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