Duterte: Philippines cannot 'gamble' with COVID-19 like US, Brazil have

Bella Perez-Rubio - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday called his American and Brazilian counterparts, Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro, brave for reopening their economies — even as both countries account for the largest number of COVID-19 cases and fatalities in the world.

"Let me stress that whether we open a modified lockdown or we totally open it in wild abandon like America and Brazil, well those presidents are quite brave [and Bolsonaro] has money," Duterte said in a mix of English and Filipino.

The president added that his Brazilian counterpart has a Trump-like "devil-may-care attitude."

On the other hand, Duterte said in Filipino that "we are poor [and] cannot gamble" like Brazil and the US.

Trump and Bolsonaro's so-called gamble has led to the loss of 131,480 lives in the US and 66,741 in Brazil, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.

The United States leads the world with the most infections at 2.99 million, with the New York Times reporting that cases are spiking in several states across the country.

CNN reports that 25% of the globe's novel coronavirus cases can be found in the US, even as it only accounts for 4% of the world's population.

Brazil trails the US with 1.66 million COVID-19 cases.

Bolsonaro on Tuesday announced that he tested positive for the potentially deadly disease. The far-right leader has caused huge controversy in Brazil for repeatedly flouting containment measures and playing down the risk of the virus.

Trump has similarly downplayed the virus and has flouted his government's own regulations amid the pandemic, choosing to forgo the wearing of masks at public appearances and holding a rally in June with thousands present and where wearing a mask was optional.

Following his re-election rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, eight of Trump's campaign staffers and two Secret Service agents tested positive for COVID-19.

READ: Palace says deciding on the fate of Metro Manila a 'gamble'

'No choice but to reopen the economy'

Malacañang on Monday said it was "saddened" by the sharp rise in novel coronavirus cases in the country but maintained that it sees reopening the economy as the only option for now.

"We really have no alternative, because our economy has been pushed to the edge. All of us need to start working," presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in Filipino.

He said this amid the health department logging a record-breaking surge in the daily tally of national infections amounting to 2,434 on Sunday followed by another 2,099 cases on Monday.

As it stands, the Philippines has logged 47,783 novel coronavirus infections and 1,309 deaths.

A researcher from the University of the Philippines on Tuesday warned that COVID-19 cases could breach 100,000 in the country by the end of August.

Mathematics professor Dr. Guido David, a member of the UP OCTA Research group, on Tuesday added that his group's working model now predicts at least 65,000 infections in the country by the end of July.

This new figure forecasts at least 5,000 more cases than the UP research group's previous working model for the same month.

Roque on Monday said that reverting to a stricter community quarantine is still a possibility if Metro Manila fails to meet the minimum seven-day doubling rate criteria and finds its critical care capacity overwhelmed.

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