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Philippines

Duterte poised to ease strict Covid-19 measures

Philippine president announces some non-essential services will be allowed to resume on Luzon soon

Duterte poised to ease strict Covid-19 measures

President Rodrigo Duterte is set to relax some lockdown rules on the main Philippine island of Luzon but has yet to make a decision on mass transit restrictions amid the coronavirus crisis. (Photo: Ted Aljibe/AFP)

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is set to loosen lockdown rules by allowing some non-essential services to reopen once extended strict social distancing measures expire on Luzon, the country’s biggest and most populous island.

Businesses involving no “direct physical contact” will be allowed to resume operations, he said.

The lockdowns, known as “extended community quarantines,” are due to be lifted on May 15 in capital Manila and on April 30 in other areas of Luzon.

Duterte said workers from some selected services will be allowed to work, such as in the electronics, manufacturing, delivery and maintenance sectors. However, schools, entertainment centers, leisure facilities and malls will remain closed.

He also advised the public to wait for a further announcement with regard to public transport.

“In the transportation sector that involves the mass transit of people … please wait as we are finalizing the rules. But rest assured, you will still observe strict social distancing,” Duterte said on April 28.

Duterte claimed his administration is now hiring around 16,000 health professionals to aid the government in its fight against Covid-19.

He also said the government was recruiting healthcare workers in the private sector and from overseas to work in public hospitals and government-funded medical facilities.

The Budget Department has sanctioned a 2.7 billion peso (US$54 million) fund for Duterte to hire more than 15,700 health professionals.

The move follows appeals from the Health Department for more doctors and nurses to help fight the deadly disease.

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As of April 27, the Philippines had recorded 7,777 Covid-19 cases with 511 deaths, according to government figures.

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