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Philippines placing southern city in lockdown

MANILA, Philippines — One southern Philippine province and its war-battered capital will be placed under a mild lockdown starting Thursday and the rest of the country will be under more relaxed restrictions to boost the battered economy of the country counting the most coronavirus infections in Southeast Asia.

President Rodrigo Duterte announced the quarantine restrictions for October in televised remarks Monday night. Lanao del Sur province and its capital, Marawi city, will fall under a lockdown starting Thursday due to infection spikes in recent weeks.

 

Most of Marawi’s commercial and downtown areas were destroyed after hundreds of Islamic State group-aligned militants laid siege to the mosque-studded city in May 2017 and the military launched a massive offensive and airstrikes to quell the five-month uprising. Many residents remain displaced, now staying with relatives or in government-constructed housing units.

Duterte and officials did not provide more specifics on Marawi, but a mild lockdown would restrict most residents at home except for medical emergencies and buying food and other essential trips. Shopping malls and other vital businesses can operate partially but leisure and entertainment centers, along with fitness gyms and movie theaters should be closed.

Metropolitan Manila and five other cities will remain under general quarantine restrictions with more businesses and public transport allowed to partially operate on condition people wear face masks and shields and stay safely apart.

Classes in public schools are scheduled to resume online belatedly on Oct. 5 due to the pandemic.

The Philippines has confirmed more than 307,000 cases of coronavirus infection and 5,381 people have died from COVID-19 as of Monday.

In other developments around the Asia-Pacific region:

— India’s Serum Institute, the world’s biggest vaccine producer, says it will produce 200 million doses of coronavirus vaccines for developing countries. In August, the vaccine alliance GAVI said it had agreed to a deal with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Serum Institute to speed the manufacturing and delivery of up to 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccines to developing countries in 2021. The Serum Institute now says it has agreed to produce an additional 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccines. The collaboration gives upfront capital to the Serum Institute so that once any effective COVID-19 vaccine is licensed, the company can mass produce the shots at scale, as early as the first half of 2021. Countries including Britain, France and the U.S. have signed deals with pharmaceutical companies for access to COVID-19 vaccines even before they have been licensed. Activists have warned that rich countries hoarding limited vaccines could leave little for the developing world. The Serum Institute has entered manufacturing agreements for vaccine candidates from AstraZeneca and Novovax. GAVI heads an international plan to buy vaccines for lower income countries.

Source: AP

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