Duterte says Philippines can’t totally reopen yet as cases spike

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President Rodrigo R. Duterte said he will “have to be very circumspect in reopening the economy” given the recent spike in coronavirus cases.

The firebrand leader said he can’t emulate the “devil-may-care attitude” of Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro because the Philippines is poor. “We cannot afford really a total epidemic or pandemonium,” he said in an address aired on Wednesday.

The Philippines will continue to limit the number of people that can go out, Mr. Duterte said, encouraging Filipinos to remain patient. The nation has the second-highest number of infections in Southeast Asia after Indonesia, and has the fastest rise in cases since June 1 when the capital region reopened.

The President’s comments came after Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno both backed further easing of virus curbs to reignite an economy facing its deepest contraction in three decades.

COVID-19 cases climbed 1,540 to 47,873 on Tuesday, including 1,309 deaths. — Bloomberg