Individuals wait in line as early as 5 a.m. for the start of the vaccine roll out program of the local government for people under the A4 priority group at the SM City Manila on June 8, 2021.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman

Pandemic made Manila a less liveable city in 2021 — report

Ramon Royandoyan (Philstar.com) - June 9, 2021 - 6:32pm

MANILA, Philippines — The coronavirus pandemic that stretched Manila’s dilapidated healthcare system to the limit made the Philippine capital a less liveable city this year.

Manila ranked 109th out of 140 cities in the 2021 edition of The Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Global Liveability Index released Wednesday. That was six notches below its rank in 2019. The EIU did not release a report in 2020 due to pandemic disruptions.

The decline in Manila’s ranking was triggered by a drop in its overall score to 53.4, from 62.0 previously. Majority of the capital’s scores fell across five indicators that include stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.

“Manila had maintained its pre-pandemic rank at 103 till the last survey, but it has now deteriorated to 109th. The main reason behind the rank change was an increased stress on the healthcare system in the light of the surge in Covid-19 cases,” Upasana Dutt, head of EIU’s Global Liveability, said when sought for comment.

“The capacity restrictions on gatherings were also tightened as a result,” Dutt added.

Broken down, Manila’s healthcare score sagged 16.6 points to 41.7 after the city’s hospitals have been overwhelmed by elevated coronavirus cases. As a result, the capital and nearby areas were placed on on-off lockdowns to give overworked healthcare workers a break, inadvertently disrupting schools and businesses. This shaved off 17.8 points from Manila’s culture and environment score to 45.5, and slashed 8.4 points in its education score to 66.7.

Manila’s stability score, which looked into prevalence of crime and unrest in a city, was unchanged at 60. With the pandemic hampering the construction of new roads and bridges, the capital’s infrastructure score was also steady at 64.3.

Overall, a swift pandemic response catapulted Auckland to the top of this year’s survey of world's most liveable cities. This was followed by Osaka and Tokyo in Japan, Adelaide in Australia and Wellington in New Zealand, all of which also managed the health crisis well.

Many European and Canadian cities have fallen down the rankings, having battled a second Covid-19 wave by restricting cultural and sporting events, and closing schools and restaurants.

At the bottom of the index is Damascus amid Syria's ongoing civil war. 

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