The Latest: Philippines allows partial reopening in capital

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Men buy face masks to help curb the spread of the COVID-19 in Caloocan city, Philippines on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has decided to ease a mild coronavirus lockdown in the capital and four outlying provinces to further reopen the country's battered economy despite having the most reported infections in Southeast Asia. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

MANILA, Philippines — Fitness gyms, barber shops and internet cafes were allowed to reopen partly in the Philippine capital Tuesday as the government further eased quarantine restrictions despite the country having the most coronavirus infections in Southeast Asia.

President Rodrigo Duterte, however, placed the southern city of Iligan under a mild lockdown after a rise in community infections, underscoring how COVID-19 cases have spread away from the capital, metropolitan Manila, the epicenter of the pandemic in the country.

Night curfew hours have been shortened in most cities in the capital and outlying provinces under the new arrangements, which will last for a month.

Duterte announced that medical personnel, who could be ejected because of fears by landlords that they are virus carriers, would be given free billeting and food near their hospitals.

More than 220,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including about 3,500 deaths, have been reported in the Philippines, which has struggled to find a balance between restricting public mobility to curb the virus and reviving an economy that has fallen into recession.

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