MANILA — The Philippines surpassed the one million mark on Monday in the total number of coronavirus cases it has reported, as the country struggles with newer, deadlier forms of the virus.
Average daily case reports in the country are not high by international standards, at about 8 per 100,000 population, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University; the U.S. rate is about 18, and much of Europe is in the 30s and 40s or worse. But the Philippines reported very few cases last year, and did not see a significant surge until recently.
In response, Manila and four other suburbs went into lockdown earlier this month. President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to speak about quarantine measures on Wednesday.
Harry Roque, spokesman for President Duterte, said new variants and not the government’s pandemic policies were to blame for the surge. He noted that the Philippines was far down in the global rankings for the total number of cases.
“This just proves that for the rest of the world, the rise in the number of cases is really a problem because of these new variants,” Mr. Roque said.
Richard Gordon, a senator who is also the head of the Philippine Red Cross, said that the agency was urgently setting up field hospitals, quarantine hospitals and scaling up testing as the government grappled with the situation.
He added that the organization had also converted unused classrooms and buildings into quarantine facilities for people who have contracted Covid-19 but had mild symptoms.
“Urgent extra medical care is a matter of life and death as this pandemic sets alarming new records,” he said. “Our volunteers are working day and night.”