MANILA, Philippines — Other countries have also experienced a surge in COVID-19 cases and are under lockdown, President Rodrigo Duterte said in a pre-recorded briefing that aired Monday night as he swept aside criticisms that the government failed to control the pandemic situation.
“Did the government fail? Did the government do nothing?” he said in Filipino. “You know, in truth, the countries of Ukraine, France, Germany, Poland, Italy are under lockdown now.”
“Seventy-five percent of Italy has entered a new lockdown in a bid to fight the rising rates of coronavirus. It’s not just us,” he added.
In the same briefing, Duterte announced the imposition of stricter community quarantine levels in several areas in the country.
According to him, even countries that started earlier in COVID-19 vaccination experienced reinfections because of new and more infectious coronavirus variants.
“They were first to get vaccines and yet there are new strains. I don’t know. I’m not a doctor or a medical practitioner, but they have reinfections and there are new strains. And this is what I fear,” the president said.
Critics have been calling out the government and accusing it of failing to adequately address the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as daily new cases reached new highs, with the latest record peaking at 10,016 cases in a single day.
Those cases were reported on Monday by the Department of Health, making it the highest increase in new cases in a single day ever since the pandemic started last year.
This brought the total number of cases to 731,894, with 602,213 recoveries and 13,186 fatalities.
The current number of active COVID-19 cases is 115,495.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque earlier defended the government’s pandemic response, putiting blame for the COVID-19 surge on the new coronavirus variants.
To address the alarming rise of COVID-19 cases, Duterte decided to group into a single bubble Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan, and Rizal under enhanced community quarantine from March 29 to April 4.