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MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine president has retained a strict lockdown in a central city he described as a new coronavirus hot spot, while the capital and the rest of the country were placed in lighter quarantines.

President Rodrigo Duterte made the announcement Tuesday night on TV, further stretching three-month lockdowns and quarantines that officials call successful but his critics describe as ridden with failures and confusion.

The Philippines has among the most COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia with more than 37,500 people infected, including 1,266 who have died.

Duterte blamed Cebu city, which will remain under a lockdown up to July 15, for many violations of the rules that led to infection spikes.

“Cebu is now the hot spot for COVID. Why? Many of you did not follow. So don’t get mad at me,” he said.

The Philippines shut down most businesses in March but has reopened the economy recently as unemployment soared and massive government funds dwindled for cash and food aid for the poor.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

— India reported 18,653 new coronavirus cases and 507 deaths in the past 24 hours with June proving to be the worst month since the pandemic hit the country in late January. India’s total cases reached 585,493 on Wednesday, more than 400,000 of them reported in June alone. India’s health ministry said 17,400 people have died. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed concern over negligence in maintaining social distance and wearing masks.

— South Korea is considering listing religious facilities with nightclubs, hostess bars and karaoke rooms as “high risk” venues for the spread of COVID-19 following a slew of transmissions tied to church gatherings. Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said Wednesday more than 40% of the country’s newly confirmed infections over the previous three days were traced to places of worship. He pleaded people to refrain from religious gatherings and criticized churches and other facilities for failing to use proper prevention measures. High-risk facilities are advised to close or otherwise must enforce anti-virus measures and register visitors with smartphone QR codes so virus carriers can be tracked.

— China reported just three new cases Wednesday, all in the capital Beijing where an outbreak last month appears to have run its course amid intense testing and case tracing. No new deaths were reported, leaving the toll at 4,634 among 83,534 cases of COVID-19 recorded since the virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. With 328 cases reported since June 11, Beijing has reinstated some prevention measures, suspended classes for schoolchildren and carried out 8.3 million virus tests among the city’s more than 20 million residents.

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Governor Greg Abbott Warns That Texas Could Be Headed Back To Lockdown If Coronavirus Doesnt Slow

After becoming one of the earliest states to reopen its economy, Texas could be looking at taking a major step backward.

As the number of coronavirus cases in the state continue to rise sharply, Governor Greg Abbott warned that the state may need to head back into lockdown. As the Texas Tribune reported, Abbott warned on Friday that conditions were continuing to worsen and people across the state have not abided by his mandate to wear masks in public.

He noted that the deaths from COVID-19 today reflect those who contracted the virus in late May, meaning that another surge in deaths could be headed in the coming weeks as a result of the recent surge in positive cases.

Abbott again emphasized the importance of wearing a mask in public, even though he made it clear it was a “very tough decision” for him to make the mandate. But Abbott warned that if people were not willing to put on masks in public, and if cases continued to rise as they have in the last few weeks, they may need to move back into lockdown.

“I made clear that I made this tough decision for one reason: It was our last best effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. If we do not slow the spread of COVID-19 … the next step would have to be a lockdown,” he said in an interview with KLBK.

Abbott had already come under criticism at the time the state announced that it would be allowing many non-essential businesses to reopen at the start of May. The state had reached one-day highs in both reported cases and deaths just ahead of the reopening, and weeks later the state saw another surge in cases.

In recent weeks, Abbott has taken steps to slow the spread of the virus in the state. On Friday, he extended the Disaster Declaration that was first put in place on March 13, allowing the state to move resources to the hardest-hit areas.

In making the announcement, Abbott again stressed the importance of wearing a mask and taking proper social distancing precautions.

“Extending this Disaster Declaration helps ensure that Texas has the resources and flexibility needed to effectively respond to COVID-19,” Abbott said, via NBC Dallas-Fort Worth. “To further mitigate the spread of the virus and overcome this challenge, Texans should continue to do their part by wearing a mask, social distancing, and staying home if possible.”

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