Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said the massive lockdown that has restricted millions to their homes will be eased, but he warned that people who want to return to work must follow safeguards to avoid more deaths and a second wave of COVID-19 outbreaks.
The Philippine economy contracted in the first quarter and the finance secretary reported that up to 1.5 million jobs have been lost during the lockdown on Luzon island, the country’s most populous region and which includes the capital, Manila.
Duterte made the announcement in videotaped remarks shown on nationwide TV on Tuesday. He said his spokesman will later disclose which regions will remain under lockdown and which areas would be released from it based on the scale and speed of infections. The two-month lockdown was supposed to last until May 15.
The Philippines has reported more than 11,000 infections, including 726 deaths. Meanwhile, at least 17 international cruise ships manned mostly by Filipino seamen have been allowed to dock in Manila Bay, the Philippine Coast Guard said.
Among the vessels is the MV Ruby Princess, which was under investigation by Australian authorities for coronavirus infections. It has more than 200 Filipino crew members, who were to join at least 5,000 of their compatriots on board for a series of tests before being allowed to disembark, officials said.