Filipino children will not attend school until a vaccine to protect against COVID-19 becomes available, officials confirmed, prompting fears millions of students could be left without access to education.
Scientists around the world are racing to develop a vaccine, but most experts caution that it will take at least a year or two for one to become available.
Philippines education secretary Leonor Briones said online, or TV classes would resume at the end of August, but there were concerns that children from the poorest or most remote communities, who do not have internet access, will miss out.
The country recently eased a strictly enforced quarantine that had been in place for more than two months, despite hundreds of new cases continuing to emerge daily. The lockdown has succeeded in slowing transmission, but it has also devastated the economy, and left millions of people out of work and in need of urgent social assistance.
Restrictions on movement remain in place, including for children, who are generally not allowed outside their homes unless they are going to get essentials or going to work.
On Monday, 579 new infections were announced in the Philippines, bringing total cases to 22,474 cases. So far, 1,011 fatalities have been recorded.
The total number of known global cases of coronavirus is over seven million with 410,000 deaths worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that the pandemic is worsening.