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Millions of people in the Philippines were ordered to stay home Tuesday as global coronavirus infections kept soaring, with the World Health Organization warning against relying on a vaccine "silver bullet" to end the pandemic.

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More than 18 million people worldwide have been infected with the virus since it first emerged in China late last year and it shows no sign of slowing down.

Desperate to contain the spread and relieve pressure on overwhelmed hospitals, some countries such as the Philippines have resorted to reimposing economically painful restrictions on travel and businesses.

Commuter trains, buses and other public vehicles stayed off the main roads of the capital Manila on Tuesday and police were again staffing checkpoints to restrict public travel as surging virus cases forced another lockdown.

Officials deployed dozens of shuttle buses, along with army trucks, to ferry stranded medical personnel and workers of authorised businesses. Most domestic flights to and from the capital were cancelled, and night curfews will return in places.

Some health workers use bicycles as an alternative mode of transport following the suspension of public transportation due to the implementation of MECQ in Metro Manila. pic.twitter.com/xW2MRHVIpP

— The Philippine Star (@PhilippineStar) August 4, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte agreed to reinstate the lockdown after medical groups warned the health care system was being overwhelmed by Covid-19 patients. More than 106,000 people have been infected, including more than 2,100 who have died.

More than 27 million people on the main island of Luzon, which includes Manila, are expected to remain under lockdown for weeks. With only 24 hours' notice of the shutdown, many found themselves stranded in the capital and unable to get back to their hometowns.

"We've run out of money. We can't leave the airport because we don't have any relatives here," said Ruel Damaso, a 36-year-old construction worker trying to return to the southern city of Zamboanga.

"We will have to stay here for two weeks until we get our flights back."

The lockdown is milder than the one imposed earlier this year, which largely confined most people to their homes for weeks, but is more severe than the quarantine restrictions the capital had been under recently.

Businesses previously allowed to partly reopen, including barbershops, gyms, dine-in restaurants and tourist destinations, have been ordered shut. Authorised companies including banks, health and food processing firms must shuttle their employees between home and work.

Vaccine 'silver bullet'

Despite months of crippling restrictions, the pandemic is gathering pace in regions across the globe, with the worldwide death toll nearing 700,000.

Brazil is driving a surge in Latin America and the Caribbean where infections have topped five million. South America's largest country has recorded 2.75 million cases, and close to half the region's more than 202,000 deaths.

Only the United States has been worse affected, with the number of fatalities surpassing 155,000.

Hopes of ending the current cycle of outbreaks and lockdowns rest largely on a vaccine, with research labs around the worRead More – Source