Philippines remains worst place to be amid pandemic


The Philippines remains bottom of Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking of the best and worst places to be amid the pandemic in October, as vaccinations and reopening lag despite its outbreak easing.

While other Southeast Asian nations also continue to be ranked low among the 53 economies tracked, the Philippines fares among the worst on vaccine coverage, with just 26% of the population covered amid challenges in bringing shots to areas outside of the big cities.

In comparison, Indonesia and Vietnam — ranked 48th and 52nd respectively this month — have distributed enough vaccines to cover more than a third of their populations. Ranked 50th, neighbor Malaysia has given out shots covering 76% of its population, the highest in the region except for Singapore.

Ongoing curbs on movement domestically, including a ban on kids in malls and other public spaces, along with restrictions on international travel also drag on the Philippines’ score, a reflection of the country’s conservative approach to reopening the economy amid concerns about its fragile healthcare system.

The capital Manila has allowed more businesses to open their doors again, including gyms and cinemas, but it’s still behind neighbors like Thailand and Indonesia which are back to embracing tourists.

The good news for the Philippines is that virus infections have ebbed after hitting a record high last month, driven by the spread of the more contagious delta variant.

The percentage of those testing positive for the virus has declined significantly from nearly one in three in September to about 12%, indicating the Philippines has a better handle on its outbreak than before and is catching cases. That could pave the way for more reopening going forward. —