Philippines businesses take hit amid record run of COVID-19 cases

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Filipinos queue for a booster dose of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine amid rising infections, in Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines, January 5, 2022. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

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  • Third straight day of record-high cases
  • Health sector at risk of being overwhelmed -official
  • Mayors see no need for further tightening for now

MANILA, Jan 10 (Reuters) - A COVID-19 spike has disrupted businesses in the Philippines, with banks, malls and airlines reducing operations and some schools suspending online classes due to staff sickness, as authorities announced a third day of record new cases on Monday.

The Philippines reported 33,169 new coronavirus infections on Monday, bringing its overall tally close to three million as the Omicron variant takes its toll, with the overpopulated capital Manila and surrounding provinces worst hit.

Commercial airlines have cancelled more than a hundred domestic and international flights as cases surge, with airlines reporting infections among staff and lower demand due to uncertainty among travellers.

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The healthcare system is at risk of being overwhelmed, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told ANC news channel, calling on symptomatic people to immediately isolate and get tested.

The Southeast Asian nation was gradually easing restrictions late last year as vaccination rates rose and infection rates fell, but authorities were last week forced to tighten mobility curbs to contain a rapid spread.

Mayors in the capital region see no need to further restrict movement for now, however, because people were self regulating, said Benjamin Abalos, chairman of the capital's council of mayors.

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Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales and Karen Lema; Editing by Martin Petty

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