FILED - People walking in a street in a slum in Manila. Social distancing in these areas to prevent the spread of coronavirus is almost impossible. Photo: Alejandro Ernesto/dpa/IANS. Image Source: IANS News

Manila, April 12 : The Philippines will ease lockdown restrictions in Metro Manila and four adjacent provinces from Monday onwards despite a surge in new coronavirus cases, a government spokesman said.

The spokesman, Harry Roque, on Sunday said President Rodrigo Duterte approved to relax restrictions in Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal until April 30, reports Xinhua news agency.

The new set of lockdown rules will be announced on Monday, said Roque.

The Philippines' Department of Health (DOH) reported 11,681 new cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 864,868.

The death toll climbed to 14,945 after 201 more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH said.

Roque said the government will further improve the country's health care system including decongesting of hospitals.

The government will also build more step-down facilities for recovering patients, he added.

The government placed Metro Manila and four adjacent provinces under a two-week strict lockdown from March 29 "to limit the spread of the variants" and contain the surging virus transmission.

Since the reimposition of stricter restrictions, the DOH reported over 10,000 average cases every day.

Health authorities blamed the fast-spreading "variants of concern" as one of the drivers of transmission and the people's failure to comply with health protocols such as wearing face-coverings and avoiding gatherings.

The Philippines, which has about 110 million population, has tested over 10 million people since the outbreak in January 2020.

 Latest updates on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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