The Philippines announced on Tuesday that it was expanding a lockdown for unvaccinated people around the capital, Manila, after recording a spike in Covid-19 cases after the holidays.
Officials made the announcement after the Philippines reported 4,984 new cases in the country, the highest daily total in recent months for a second straight day.
Metropolitan Manila, an area containing 16 cities and a township with a population of about 14 million, had already been placed under the restrictions on Monday. Mayors agreed to bar unvaccinated residents from leaving their homes except for essential reasons, such as for food, water, medical needs and work.
Tuesday’s announcement expanded the area under restrictions to include Bulacan, Cavite and Rizalbar. The rules will go into effect there on Wednesday and last until Jan. 15.
Since the virus emerged in the country, President Rodrigo Duterte has placed several regions, including Luzon, its largest island and home to Manila, under a series of lockdowns.
Health officials suggested that vaccine complacency was behind the latest rise in infections.
“Despite the availability of vaccines, there is a number of individuals who adamantly opt not to be vaccinated,” the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority said in a statement.
Benhur Abalos, the head of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, which oversees regulations in the megacity, said the measures were necessary “because some of our minors are unvaccinated.”
“This is just temporary while the cases are rampaging,” he said of the lockdown. “So this is just to protect our unvaccinated.”
Mr. Abalos said the authorities were worried about a 285 percent rise in Covid-19 cases from mid-December to Dec. 31.
The government hopes to fully inoculate 77 million Filipinos out of a population of 110 million before May 2022. As of early December, only 40 million have had two doses.
Dr. Benjamin Campomanes, executive vice president and chief medical officer of St. Luke’s Medical Center in Manila, told a local television station that cases would continue to soar if no measures were taken.
“What is very concerning is the exponential increase. Just before New Year, for example, we have had zero admissions here in Quezon City,” he said, referring to a metro Manila suburb. “But now we have 41 cases within a week. With this exponential increase, I am worried about a week from today.”