Thousands of Stranded Filipinos Crammed into Stadium Amid Virus Risks

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Thousands of Filipinos were crammed into a baseball stadium in Manila on Saturday, breaking social distancing rules despite coronavirus risks, after people wanting to return to their home provinces flooded a government transportation program.

Officials had reserved the stadium as a place to test people before transporting them back to their home provinces under a program to help people who had lost their jobs in the capital return to their families elsewhere.

Officials had planned for 7,500 people to arrive at the stadium from Friday, but were caught out when another 2,000 people who were not yet scheduled to travel headed there anyway.

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Many of those at the stadium had got stuck in the capital when it imposed one of the strictest and longest lockdowns in mid-March in response to the coronavirus pandemic. That was eased at the start of June, allowing businesses to reopen in a limited capacity, but schools remain shut and mass gatherings are banned.

Coronavirus cases have more than quadrupled since restrictions were eased to 78,412, with more than half of those in the capital and surrounding areas.

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