Mon, 02 Aug 2021

MANILA, June 14 (Xinhua) -- The Philippines' Department of Health (DOH) reported on Monday 6,426 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 1,322,053.

The death toll climbed to 22,845 after 57 more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH said.

The Philippines, which has more than 110 million population, has tested more than 13 million people since the outbreak in January 2020.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the COVID-19 situation in Metro Manila remains "fragile" despite the falling number of new cases.

"Our hospitals in Metro Manila now are manageable. There are no more hospitals at a high-risk level. All have been decongested from the last surge that we've had," she said in an online briefing, warning that "we might experience another surge anytime if we are not careful."

The Philippines is now focusing on how to bring the pandemic-ravaged economy back on track by easing lockdown restrictions while curbing coronavirus infections. The government will announce later Monday new restrictions rules.

"We need to do these things slowly. We will prioritize the essential services first before we can open the rest of the non-essentials," Vergeire said, stressing the need to balance the economy and the health sector.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the restrictions focus on reopening the economy to help people recover their jobs and income sources.

"Our policy right now in quarantine classifications is in favor of the economic side, allowing more businesses to come back and operate at a higher capacity," Lopez said in a televised press conference.

The mayors of cities in Metro Manila agreed on Monday to shorten the curfew hours from 12:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m. local time in the capital starting Tuesday to allow businesses to operate longer.

The National Economic and Development Authority said the pandemic brought about losses of around 1.04 trillion pesos (roughly 21.78 billion U.S. dollars) in total income to households in 2020 alone.

Employment data in the country shows that unemployment rate rose from 5.3 percent before the pandemic to 7.1 percent in March 2021.

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