President Rodrigo Duterte says the Philippines will not fully re-open its economy as COVID-19 cases continue to rise, because another spike would put the nation in “deep s—.”
Duterte broadcast the announcement to his nation of 12 million on Wednesday, saying he could not follow the same “devil-may-care attitudes” of his peers Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and President Donald Trump who are responsible for the two nations with the most infections in the world.
“We cannot afford really a total epidemic or pandemonium. We are poor, we cannot afford to gamble. We are still grappling with the first wave,” he said, according to the South China Morning Post.
At the beginning of June, Duterte eased the Philippines’ strict lockdown, which closed most businesses and much of the government for three months, after the economy shrank for the first time in twenty years.
Since then cases have risen, and the Philippines now has the second-most cases in Southeast Asia after Indonesia. On Tuesday, it reported more than 1,500 new cases.
As of July 8, the Philippines had 50,359 cases with 1,314 deaths according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
In his taped address, Duterte said the country would “go slowly,” to ensure that if there’s another spike it would be “within manageable numbers,” according to the Inquirer.net.
“Because if you open the entire Philippines and thousands upon thousands of new cases would happen, then we are in deep s—. We will really suffer,” he said.
People in the Philippines have lost a huge amount of work due to the pandemic, and the nation has also had to deal with more than 24,000 citizens returning home after losing jobs abroad, according to The New York Times.
After Duterte’s broadcast, Philippines finance secretary Carlos Dominguez said letting more businesses operate despite rising cases was necessary, and people’s health and their ability to earn a living was not a “binary choice,” according to the Morning Post.
“This is a tough decision to make but we need to do this,” he said.