MANILA (Reuters) – More than a million Philippine doctors and nurses, saying the country was losing the fight against COVID-19, urged President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday to reimpose strict lockdown in and around Manila.
In the largest call yet from medical experts to contain the virus, 80 groups representing 80,000 doctors and a million nurses, warned of a collapse of the healthcare system from soaring infections of the new coronavirus without tighter controls in the capital and nearby provinces.
The Philippines on Friday recorded its biggest daily jump in new cases for a second successive day, with 4,063 infections.
“Our health workers are burnt out with seemingly endless number of patients trooping to our hospitals for emergency care and admission,” the group, led by the Philippine College of Physicians, said in a letter to the president.
“We are waging a losing battle against COVID-19,” it added.
The presidential palace said it will include input from stakeholders in future meetings of the coronavirus task force but that community quarantine alone was insufficient.
“The palace understands the delicate balancing act between public health and the economic health of the nation,” Duterte spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement.
In mid-March, Duterte imposed one of the world’s longest and strictest lockdown in the capital and other provinces to combat the virus.
In an effort to revive the economy, restrictions were eased in June, allowing freer movement of people and the reopening of some businesses. But infections have since jumped fivefold to 93,354, with deaths more than doubling to 2,023.
Healthcare workers, including microbiologists, infectious disease and public health experts, paediatricians and nurses, called for a two-week lockdown in the capital and provinces south of it until mid-August.
The capital region and nearby provinces account for two-thirds of the Philippine economy, among the fastest-growing in Asia before the pandemic.
Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by William Mallard