Asia Minute: Manila Faces New Spike in COVID-19 Cases

Dec 18, 2020

We're a week away from Christmas, and doctors are reminding people to be cautious about holiday gatherings in the midst of the pandemic. That's true across the United States, and it's also the case in the Philippines — which is starting to see the beginnings of a spike in new cases.


There’s nothing quite like Christmas season in the Philippines — especially in the capital city of Manila. Usually this means lights, music, and crowds packing shopping malls, parties, and churches.

This year is different of course, but health officials are warning that the number of COVID-19 cases is increasing — particularly around the capital. The Health Department notes “there has been a continuous growth of cases in Metro Manila — signaling the start of a surge.”

Concerns are that holiday gatherings will lead to a new spike in cases in January. With more than 450,000 cases, the Philippines has the second highest number in Southeast Asia — trailing only Indonesia.

On Thursday, the government said it plans to use a combination of four different vaccines in the first quarter of the new year to fight the virus.

So far, none have received emergency clearance for use.

The likely initial choices do not include anything produced by Pfizer or Moderna. A presidential spokesman says three of them will come from Chinese companies and one from Russia.

He says plans are to acquire more than two and a half million doses of vaccine from the British company Astra Zeneca in the second quarter of next year.