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Philippines puts schools on ‘health break’ as Covid cases skyrocket

MANILA – Teachers and students in the Philippine capital are placed on what authorities describe as a week-long ‘health break’ to recover from Covid or care for loved ones infected with the virus as the country experiences a Record number of cases fueled by the rapid spread Omicron Variant.

And on Friday, the country’s Education Department expanded the initiative by announcing that primary schools in five heavily urbanized provinces south of the capital, Manila, were closed until the end of the month.

“The city of Manila does not declare any classes at all levels, in private and public schools,” Mayor Francisco Domagoso said Thursday, adding that teachers and students would have a week “to rest and, hopefully, recover “or give them a break while they care. for their loved ones.

“Parents’ level of anxiety for their children is increasing,” he said, and “the same goes for the teacher.”

The measure may seem less like a break for parents, who have already had to help their children get through one of the world’s longest class shutdowns. Schools reopened in November in areas of the country with low transmission rates of the virus after more than a year of virtual lessons, but officials said the Omicron variant forced a rethink of loosening restrictions.

The country’s health department reported 37,027 new cases on Friday – a record authorities blamed on the Omicron variant. That brings the total number of virus cases during the pandemic to 3.1 million, while nearly 53,000 people have died.

A recent survey by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, a group that represents teachers and educators in the House of Representatives, found that 50% of its members in Manila had reported being ill with flu-like symptoms while continuing to teach.

The government extended its coronavirus restrictions in Manila and other provinces on Friday until the end of the month. These measures include capacity limits for restaurants, shopping malls, parks, sports venues, gyms, cinemas, as well as exhibitions and social events. Children under 18 are also banned from leaving their homes in much of the country.

“Since the Omicron variant was detected in the country, the government has been monitoring Covid-19 cases closely as we recognize that this variant, given its characteristics, would most likely lead to an increase in the number of Covid cases, while like she did. in other countries ”, declared Karlo Nograles, presidential spokesman, during a press briefing.

“I think it is clear that this variant is more transmissible,” he said, stressing that due to the government’s aggressive vaccination campaign, those infected were not suffering from serious illness.

nytimes Gt

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