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The Philippines places schools on a ‘health break’ as Covid cases soar.


MANILA — Teachers and college students within the Philippine capital are being positioned on what officers describe as a weeklong “health break” to get better from Covid or look after family members contaminated with the virus because the nation experiences a file variety of circumstances fueled by the quickly spreading Omicron variant.

And on Friday, the nation’s Education Department expanded on that transfer by asserting that main faculties in 5 extremely urbanized provinces south of the capital, Manila, have been being closed till the tip of the month.

“The city of Manila is declaring no classes at all levels, private and public school,” Mayor Francisco Domagoso mentioned on Thursday, including that lecturers and college students would have every week “to rest and hopefully recover” or give them a breather as they care for his or her family members.

“The parents’ anxiety level for their kids are increasing,” he mentioned, and “this goes as well for the teacher.”

The measure could seem much less like a breather for folks, who’ve already had to assist their kids by one of many world’s longest durations of classroom closures. Schools reopened in November in areas of the nation the place virus transmission charges have been low after nicely over a yr of digital classes, however officers mentioned the Omicron variant had pressured a rethinking of the loosening in restrictions.

The nation’s Health Department reported 37,027 new circumstances on Friday — a file excessive that officers blamed on the Omicron variant. The determine brings to three.1 million the whole variety of virus circumstances in the course of the pandemic, whereas almost 53,000 individuals have died.

A latest survey performed by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, a bunch that represents lecturers and educators within the House of Representatives, discovered that fifty p.c of its members in Manila had reported being sick with flu-like signs whereas nonetheless finishing up instructing duties.

The authorities on Friday prolonged its coronavirus restrictions in Manila and different provinces till the tip of the month. Those measures embody capability limits for eating places, malls, parks, sports activities venues, health studious, cinemas, in addition to exhibitions and social occasions. Children underneath 18 are additionally barred from leaving their properties in a lot of the nation.

“Since the Omicron variant was detected in the country, the government has been closely monitoring Covid-19 cases as we recognize that this variant, given its characteristics, would most likely lead to a rise in the number of Covid cases, just as it has in other countries,” Karlo Nograles, a presidential spokesman, advised a information briefing.

“I think it is clear that this variant is more transmissible,” he mentioned, although he careworn that due to the federal government’s aggressive vaccination drive, contaminated individuals weren’t experiencing extreme sickness.

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