Covid-19: Philippines ‘losing battle’ as WHO records biggest jump in cases

Medics plead for lockdown; US suffers deadliest month; South Korea arrest sect leader

Filipino villagers with their belongings take shelter inside a gymnasium during the coronavirus  pandemic in Manila on Wednesday. Photograph: EPA

Filipino villagers with their belongings take shelter inside a gymnasium during the coronavirus pandemic in Manila on Wednesday. Photograph: EPA


Senior doctors in the Philippines have pleaded with the government to impose a strict lockdown in the capital Manila or risk losing the battle to contain the spread of coronavirus.

As the World Health Organisation recorded the highest daily number of new cases so far during the pandemic, the medics said the Philippines’ fragile health system needed a “time out” to avert collapse.

Two of Manila City’s largest government hospitals temporarily closed this week as infections have hit healthcare workers. Many hospitals in the capital also reported full capacity of their Covid-19 beds and have closed their doors to new patients.

“Our health workers are suffering burnout with seemingly endless numbers of patients trooping to our hospitals for emergency care and admission,” said Jose Santiago, president of the leading doctors’ group Philippine Medical Association.

“We are waging a losing battle against Covid-19 and we need to draw up a consolidated and definitive plan of action.”

The doctors’ groups issued the joint statement as the country posted a record of about 4,000 cases each day in the past two days, putting its total to 93,354 infections as of July31st.

They asked the president, Rodrigo Duterte, to reimpose a strict lockdown in the country’s capital and nearby provinces.

July has become the worst month of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States after deaths rose by close to 25,000 and new cases doubled in at least 18 states. The US recorded close to 1.8m new Covid-19 cases in July, bringing the total to more than 4.5m and deaths to more 152,000.

California has passed New York as the state with the most infections, racking up 493,140 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic. It has reported a record number of deaths on four separate days in just over a week.

More than 17.5 million people have been infected by coronavirus around the world and 679,439 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. The WHO said a record 292,527 new cases were added on Friday with the bulk coming from the US, Brazil, India and South Africa.

Dr Anthony Fauci, America’s leading infectious diseases expert, struck a more positive note when he told US Congress on Friday that he was “cautiously optimistic” that a “safe and effective” coronavirus vaccine will be available to the public by the end of 2020.

The UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, warned that the country could face a second lockdown unless people abided by the rules of social distancing and hygiene measures such as wearing a face mask.

He said he was pausing the reopening of leisure businesses in England, such as casinos and bowling alleys, and preventing beauty salons resuming close-up treatments, for at least two weeks to limit the threat of a full-blown resurgence. Parts of northern England have been placed back in lockdown.

South Korea authorities have arrested the founder of a secretive Christian sect at the centre of the country’s largest outbreak of Covid-19 infections. It is alleged that Lee Man-hee (89) hid crucial information about some members of his Shincheonji Church of Jesus from contact-tracers as they sought to establish how the virus was spreading as the country suffered its most serious outbreak in February.

The church is linked to more than 5,200 coronavirus infections, or 36 per cent of South Korea’s total cases. – Guardian