Asia Today: Philippines extends lockdown in central city

  • In this photo provided by the Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures as he meets with members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) in Malacanang, Manila, Philippines, Monday, June 15, 2020. Philippine officials placed the central city of Cebu back under a strict lockdown and retained quarantine restrictions in the capital for another two weeks as coronavirus infections continue to spike alarmingly. Duterte approved the moves Monday night, saying the virus campaign was not over. (Simeon Celi Jr./Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division via AP)

    In this photo provided by the Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures as he meets with members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) in Malacanang, Manila, Philippines, Monday, June 15, 2020. Philippine officials placed the central city of Cebu back under a strict lockdown and retained quarantine restrictions in the capital for another two weeks as coronavirus infections continue to spike alarmingly. Duterte approved the moves Monday night, saying the virus campaign was not over. (Simeon Celi Jr./Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division via AP) Associated Press

  • Park Sang-hak, a North Korean refugee who has floated anti-Pyongyang leaflets by balloon across the land border, arrives at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, June 30, 2020. South Korean police said Tuesday that they've summoned two activists, including Park, accused of raising tensions with North Korea by sending propaganda balloons or plastic bottles filled with rice across the border. (Hong Hae-in/Yonhap via AP)

    Park Sang-hak, a North Korean refugee who has floated anti-Pyongyang leaflets by balloon across the land border, arrives at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, June 30, 2020. South Korean police said Tuesday that they've summoned two activists, including Park, accused of raising tensions with North Korea by sending propaganda balloons or plastic bottles filled with rice across the border. (Hong Hae-in/Yonhap via AP) Associated Press

  • A resident makes a gesture as he lines up with other residents for COVID-19 test outside the Worker's Stadium in Beijing on Tuesday, June 30, 2020. Test sites have sprung up through the Chinese capital as test have become a daily normal after the latest outbreak of the coronavirus,

    A resident makes a gesture as he lines up with other residents for COVID-19 test outside the Worker's Stadium in Beijing on Tuesday, June 30, 2020. Test sites have sprung up through the Chinese capital as test have become a daily normal after the latest outbreak of the coronavirus, Associated Press

 
 
Updated 6/30/2020 9:43 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine president has retained a strict lockdown in a central city he described as a new coronavirus hot spot, while the capital and the rest of the country were placed in lighter quarantines.

President Rodrigo Duterte made the announcement Tuesday night on TV, further stretching three-month lockdowns and quarantines that officials call successful but his critics describe as ridden with failures and confusion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The Philippines has among the most COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia with more than 37,500 people infected, including 1,266 who have died.

Duterte blamed Cebu city, which will remain under a lockdown up to July 15, for many violations of the rules that led to infection spikes.

'Cebu is now the hot spot for COVID. Why? Many of you did not follow. So don't get mad at me,' he said.

The Philippines shut down most businesses in March but has reopened the economy recently as unemployment soared and massive government funds dwindled for cash and food aid for the poor.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

- South Korea is considering listing religious facilities with nightclubs, hostess bars and karaoke rooms as 'high risk' venues for the spread of COVID-19 following a slew of transmissions tied to church gatherings. Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said Wednesday more than 40% of the country's newly confirmed infections over the previous three days were traced to places of worship. He pleaded people to refrain from religious gatherings and criticized churches and other facilities for failing to use proper prevention measures. High-risk facilities are advised to close or otherwise must enforce anti-virus measures and register visitors with smartphone QR codes so virus carriers can be tracked.

- China reported just three new cases Wednesday, all in the capital Beijing where an outbreak last month appears to have run its course amid intense testing and case tracing. No new deaths were reported, leaving the toll at 4,634 among 83,534 cases of COVID-19 recorded since the virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. With 328 cases reported since June 11, Beijing has reinstated some prevention measures, suspended classes for schoolchildren and carried out 8.3 million virus tests among the city's more than 20 million residents.

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