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Philippines returns to work en mass

International 05 Jun, 2020 Follow News

Manila’s roads were heaving again this week

Filipinos in their millions returned to work in the Philippines capital Manila on Monday, after one of the world's strictest and longest coronavirus lockdowns was eased to help resuscitate an economy battered by the closure.

Public transport such as trains and shuttle buses could operate in Manila but on a limited scale, forcing commuters to wait in long queues for hours, and leaving hundreds of workers stranded.

"I have to go back to work," said Steven John Cabusao, who walked several kilometres on his first day of work after being confined to his home for 11 weeks.

Cabusao, 24, who works as a maintenance planner at an aviation firm, said his need to earn a living outweighed his fear of the coronavirus. "The fear of contracting the virus will always be there."

With the third highest number of coronavirus cases and second highest official death toll in Southeast Asia, the Philippines also allowed the reopening of more businesses, and people can now leave home without government permits.

Manila's measures were among the world's toughest, on par with those of the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus outbreak first emerged, and stricter than curbs at the peak of the contagion in Italy and in Spain, bringing the economy to a sudden halt.

In easing the measures, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte sought to walk the fine line between protecting the country's 107 million people from COVID-19 while reviving the economy facing its biggest contraction in decades.

The Philippines has recorded a total 18,086 infections recorded, of which 957 led to deaths.

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