MANILA: Philippine Health Ministry on Friday (Apr 24) reported that confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus have risen to more than 7,000.
In a bulletin, the ministry recorded 211 new infections, 15 additional deaths and 40 more recoveries. It brought the total cases to 7,192, 477 deaths and recoveries to 762.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday extended a strict lockdown in the capital Manila until May 15 to try to contain coronavirus infections, but will ease restrictions in lower-risk regions.
He also threatened to declare martial law if communist rebels disrupt the flow of relief goods for Filipinos affected by the lockdown, and asked his military to be ready.
Major airlines in the country said on Friday their domestic and international flights will remain suspended until mid-May following the latest extension of lockdown measures.
Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and the Philippine unit of Malaysia's AirAsia Group said passenger flights, which were halted in March, will remain suspended. Cargo and special recovery flights will continue, the airlines told Reuters.
Philippines' approach aims to keep overstretched health services from being overwhelmed and create a window to ramp up testing, which started slowly to gain ground in recent weeks.
But with just 72,000 tests, the government last week estimated it had managed to track only a quarter of projected infections. The health ministry has said it was too early to say if the infection curve had been flattened.