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Philippines reports new daily high of cases

People receive booster shots at a drive-thru vaccination site in Manila.  -- AFP
People receive booster shots at a drive-thru vaccination site in Manila. -- AFP

MANILA: The Philippines on Thursday logged another record daily tally of new Covid-19 cases, prompting voluntary closures of offices and establishments.

The Department of Health reported 34,021 additional Covid-19 cases on Thursday, the highest single-day count since the start of the pandemic, bringing the country's total caseload to more than 3.09 million.

The death toll rose by 82, to 52,736, it added.

Fifty per cent of the new Covid-19 cases in the past two weeks were from the capital region of Metro Manila, a sprawling metropolis of more than 13 million people, the department said.

The department has attributed the spike in cases to increased mobility and gatherings during the Christmas and New Year's holiday,as well as the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant.

Amid the surge, several government and private offices, banks and other establishments with high infection rates have declared work suspensions, while the Supreme Court also directed dozens of local courts to close their physical presence until further notice.

In Manila, Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso ordered a one-week health break for all public and private schools from Friday through January 21 amid reports that many teachers were infected.

"Parents are anxious about the safety of their children, and teachers also deal with the same anxiety," he said. "This is our response to the situation in the city."

Due to the spike, the government has imposed restrictions on the movement of unvaccinated individuals, who experts say are more vulnerable to severe infections and more prone to spread the virus. -- dpa

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