Chaos in Manila as thousands rush to get vaccinated before lockdown


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  • Thousands of people flock to vaccination centers in the capital
  • Philippines capital region returns to lockdown from August 6
  • Over 9.0% of the Filipino population has been fully vaccinated

MANILA, Aug.5 (Reuters) – Chaos gripped several COVID-19 vaccination sites in Manila on Thursday as thousands showed up hoping to receive an injection before the Philippine capital goes back to quarantine for two weeks.

Movement restrictions will be reimposed in Metro Manila, an urban sprawl of 16 cities that is home to 13 million people, starting at midnight Thursday to try to slow the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.

The neighboring province of Laguna and the towns of Iloilo and Cagayan de Oro in the central and southern Philippines, respectively, will also be placed under quarantine, President Harry Roque’s spokesman said in a statement, as the health facilities are overwhelmed.

Maricel Bacay, a 59-year-old housewife, stood in line outside a shopping center in the town of Antipolo in Rizal, one of those neighboring provinces, at 3 a.m. to try and beat the expected crowds.

“There was news that you cannot enter malls or supermarkets if you are not vaccinated,” Bacay told Reuters.

Photos on social media showed people scrambling to be the first at vaccination centers, prompting police to step in to enforce social distancing rules.

Ofelia Gonzales, 36, a food vendor in Manila, missed the deadline for a vaccine despite the queue since Wednesday night.

“If they continue to extend the lockdown, who will provide meals if we can’t get out,” she said.

With around 1.6 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 28,000 deaths, the Philippines has the second-worst coronavirus outbreak in Southeast Asia after Indonesia.

Only 10.3 million people, or 9.3 percent of the Philippines’ 110 million people, have been fully immunized. The government’s goal is to vaccinate up to 70 million people this year.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to arrest people who do not get vaccinated. Last month, he ordered village chiefs to prevent members of their community who refuse to be vaccinated from leaving their homes. Read more

Roque said authorized people, including those who buy essential goods, travel for medical reasons and frontline workers, would be allowed to move without restriction under the lockdown, even if they are not vaccinated.

“Let’s not make vaccination a super-spreader,” Roque said at a press conference. “It should save lives, not endanger lives.”

Reporting by Lisa Marie David, Jay Ereno and Neil Jerome Morales, written by Karen Lema; edited by James Pearson, Jane Wardell and Kevin Liffey

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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