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Philippines now SE Asia's COVID-19 hot spot, pressuring Duterte

Government must halt rising infections and end prolonged economic downturn

Health workers in hazmat suits join a protest ahead of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's State of the Nation Address in Quezon City on July 27.   © Reuters

MANILA -- The Philippines has emerged as Southeast Asia's coronavirus hot spot, adding pressure on President Rodrigo Duterte's government, which is facing the tough balancing act of averting spiraling infections with fresh lockdowns and relieving a prolonged economic slump.

The country's health department on Thursday reported 3,561 new infections, bringing the total to 119,460 and overtaking Indonesia, where cases rose by 1,882 to 118,753. Indonesia, with a population more than twice that of the Philippines, for over a month had been the country in the region worst hit by the pandemic.

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