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Philippines: Covid-19 Update

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published on 1 December 2021 | reading time approx. 3 minutes

  

The Philippines is one of the countries most affected by the Corona virus. Today, how-ever, there is reason to take a deep breath of relief. The Philippines is certainly not out of the woods (yet) – that will still take a considerable amount of time. However, the Covid-19 case statistics, a continuous lowering of Covid-19 (quarantine) regulatory restrictions and the latest promising economic growth figures are clear signs of a turning point.

  

  

 

In terms of Covid-19 infections, following the all-time highs of single day recorded new cases (26,303) on 11 September 2021, and death cases (423) on 30 October 2021, the country currently records the lowest numbers since March/April this year. As of 19 November 2021 the daily tally shows 1,484 new recorded cases (total 2,823,210), and 277 deaths (total 46,698) (Source: Philippine Department of Health COVID-19 Dashboard).

 

For a comparison of the latest statistical core data in comparison between the Southeast Asian countries, please refer to the Southeast Asia Covid-19 Tracker (Center of Strategic & International Studies).

 

In terms of vaccination rate, the Philippines could still do better. Initial challenges regarding the availability of vaccines and medical staff to administer the immunization, as well as logistical challenges have been mainly overcome. Several large deliveries of vaccines as well as donations (amongst others from Germany) arrived within the last weeks/months. The Philippine government has also allowed nursing students to assist in administering the vaccinations. In contrast to the national vaccination rate of 38,3 per cent, major (economic) cities have reached a significant higher vaccination rate. In Metro Manila, for example, more than 85 per cent of the target population is now fully vaccinated.


As the number of new daily infections has declined, and particularly also because of the high vaccination rates in economic and densely populated centers, the strict regulatory baseline (quarantine) rules have been increasingly relaxed. For example: After 19 months, the general curfew hours for Metro Manila have been lifted on 4 November 2021; on 15 November 2021, the authorities announced that face shields will no longer be required in areas with lower alert levels (with the Philippines having been one of the few countries in the world requiring face shields in public and work places). Since 15 November 2021, a pilot run started to bring children back to face-to-face classes (the Philippines being the last country in the world to re-open its schools after 20 month of school closures). 

 
Travel restrictions to enter the country still apply. The Philippine still only allows diplomats, members of international organizations, citizens together with close relatives and long-term visa holders to enter the country. For short term essential project work or other purposes, Travel Ban Exemptions may be applied for. Furthermore, a maximum international arrival cap still applies. For example, for the largest international airport in Manila, the daily maximum of arrivals currently amounts to 3,000 passengers, but is expected be increased within the next weeks to 4,000 – 5,000 persons per day. Furthermore, it has recently been announced that the government considers to allow persons back into the country on tourist visas towards the Christmas season, or potentially in Q1/2022.

 
Quarantine requirements primarily depend on the categorization of the country of departure, being classified in red (not allowed to enter), orange (generally 6 days quarantine & negative PCR test followed by home quarantine until 10th day) and green countries (PCR test taken at least 72 hours prior to departure).

 
In the last quarter, the Philippines recorded a GDP growth of 7.1 per cent (compared to -11.6 percent in the same quarter last year). Bringing the Philippines from one of the low-est GDP growths in Southeast Asia in 2020 (at -9.6 per cent) to one of the highest in the region through the quarters in 2021 – averaging on a year-to-date bases at currently 4,9 per cent GDP growth. The main drivers of the growth are, amongst others, the rebounding services and constructions sector.

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