Philippines' total Covid-19 cases now at over one million

MANILA The Philippines announced yesterday that its Covid-19 cases had exceeded one million.

It is the second worst-hit country in South-east Asia behind Indonesia, which has more than 1.6 million cases.

The Philippines imposed a two-week lockdown of Manila and surrounding provinces late last month to try to stem a surge in cases blamed on more contagious Covid-19 variants.

While daily infections have eased slightly, they have still averaged more than 9,000, against 5,525 per day last month and 213 per day in April last year, Health Ministry data showed.

In the capital region, an urban sprawl of 16 cities home to at least 13 million people, intensive care unit (ICU) capacity is above 70 per cent while 57 per cent of isolation beds and 64 per cent of ward beds for Covid-19 patients were occupied as of yesterday.

To allow more patients, tents were turned into Covid-19 emergency rooms at the National Kidney Transplant Institute, a government hospital in Manila.

"All in all, we waited for almost six hours. It's a long difficult wait," Covid-19 patient Roel Galan told Reuters.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said yesterday 289 additional ICU beds would be made available in the capital.

To free up beds for severe Covid-19 patients, the Philippine Red Cross said yesterday it has set up field hospital tents and converted unused classrooms and buildings into quarantine facilities for patients with moderate and mild symptoms.

The Philippines recorded 70 deaths yesterday, taking the toll to 16,853.

Meanwhile, Thailand's prime minister was fined for not wearing a mask yesterday after new Covid-19 restrictions came into force to try to halt the country's spiralling outbreak.

Wearing masks is now compulsory in public spaces in 49 provinces and Bangkok.

After a picture of a maskless Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha attending a meeting emerged on social media yesterday, the Bangkok governor said the premier had been fined 6,000 baht (S$250).

"As Bangkok governor, I filed a complaint against the prime minister who accepted the fine," Governor Aswin Kwanmuang wrote on Facebook.

Some 2,048 cases were reported yesterday. - REUTERS, AFP