Philippine capital to further ease COVID-19 restrictions

A passenger wearing a protective mask pushes a baggage cart after arriving at the Terminal 1 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, the Philippines, on March 17, 2021. (Photo: Xinhua)

MANILA, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- The Philippines' Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,534 new COVID-19 infections on Wednesday, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 3,655,709.

The DOH said 201 more people died from COVID-19 complications, pushing the death toll to 55,977. The number of active cases dipped to 55,449 as the country's positivity rate dropped to 6.1 percent.

The Metro Manila mayors have unanimously agreed to ease further the pandemic alert level in the capital region to 1 on a scale of 5 starting March 1 as COVID-19 cases dip, the Metro Manila Council said.

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority officer-in-charge Don Artes said the 17 mayors will discuss on Thursday the proposed new restrictions with the inter-agency coronavirus task force which will decide whether to implement the lowest pandemic restrictions that allow more businesses in the capital region to reopen.

Metro Manila, home to over 13 million, is under alert level 2 from Feb. 1 to Feb. 28.

The Philippines has seen four waves of COVID-19 infection since 2020. The country reported the highest single-day tally on Jan. 15 this year with 39,004 new cases.

The Philippines, which has a population of around 110 million, has tested over 26 million people.