World

Philippines records record-high COVID-19 positivity rate of 46%

The percentage of positive Covid-19 tests reached a record high in the Philippines, causing fears of a return to stricter curbs on movement and triggering a sell-off of stocks as hopes fade for a swift economic recovery.

Positivity rates are rising across Asia, a warning sign as countries brace for the highly infectious Omicron variant to take hold and overtake delta as the dominant strain. The positivity rate surged to 46% in the Philippines on Monday, more than four times the level at the end of 2021. 

Cases spiked with the spread of Omicron during the Christmas and New Year’s Day holidays. Infections are continuing to spike and more than half of the beds in hospitals’ intensive care units now occupied. Apprehension is building that the government may soon impose fresh restrictions.

One-fifth of Philippine universal banks’ branches in the capital region are closed, as the fast-spreading Omicron variant caused staff shortages, central bank Governor Benjamin Diokno said, adding that the ratio is double for smaller lenders. 

“Most transactions you can do digitally, so that’s not a problem,” Diokno said in an interview on Tuesday. “There’s no dysfunction in the delivery of services,” with clients able to transact in other nearby branches, he said.

A surge in Covid-19 cases, which reached a daily record of 33,169 on Monday, also disrupted airlines and hospitals. Nearly three dozen Globe Telecom Inc stores are temporarily closed, it said in a statement Tuesday, adding it was “not spared from the current challenges of rising community infections.”

Health officials are considering cutting required quarantine and isolation, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a briefing. The surge in cases has not yet translated to an increase in people requiring critical care.

ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH 

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: BLOOMBERG

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Paul, 37, is from Scotland in the UK, but currently lives and works in Bangkok. Paul has worked in different industries such as telemarketing, retail, hospitality, farming, insurance, and teaching, where he works now. He teaches at an all-girls High School in Bangkok. “It’s a lot of work, but I love my job.” Paul has an active interest in politics. His reason for writing for FBA is to offer people the facts and allow them to make up their own minds. Whilst he believes opinion columns have their place, it is also important that people can have accurate news with no bias.

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