Millions of people in the Philippines were left confined after the introduction of surprise quarantine measures that have caused chaos in the capital, Manila, as countries across south-east Asia imposed sweeping restrictions in response to a recent wave of coronavirus cases.
Footage from Manila showed long queues of workers stranded at checkpoints, and commuters scrambling to climb on to the back of crowded lorries after a ban on public transport that was introduced at midnight with just a few hours of warning.
Infections in the country have risen from six to 187 during the past 10 days, prompting the president, Rodrigo Duterte, to introduce aggressive measures, describing the outbreak as “the fight of our lives”. Fourteen people in the country have died. Its largest and most populous island, Luzon, population 58 million, has been placed under effective lockdown.
On Tuesday, the Philippines became the first country to shut its financial markets because of the rise in transmission rates of the virus, while Duterte declared a state of calamity, freeing up funds for local government. It is unclear how people who depend on daily work will cope financially, or how the millions of residents who live in slum areas will isolate themselves if they become ill.
A rise in patient numbers across the region – where nations had initially recorded relatively few cases – follows a ramping up of testing efforts. The increases have cast doubt on suggestions that warmer weather may stop the virus, and prompted a growing number of governments to introduce curbs on movement.
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