After over a month without recording any cases, the Philippines confirmed its first local transmission on March 7. Since then, the virus has spread with at least one case being recorded in the country’s 17 regions. Socio-economic status has been associated with the prevalence of COVID-19 cases across the country. Lockdowns, or community quarantines, have been imposed throughout the country since March 15 as a measure to limit the spread of the virus.
As of October 1, there have been 314,079 confirmed cases of the disease in the country. Out of these cases, 254,223 recoveries and 5,562 deaths were recorded. It has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia, ahead of Indonesia and Singapore, and ranks 8th in Asia and 20th in the world.As of September 29, the country has 136 subnational laboratories capable of detecting the SARS-CoV-2 virus and has conducted a total of 3,712,953 tests.
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) revised its economic growth outlook for the Philippines in 2020 from a 6.5% to 7.5% gross domestic product (GDP) growth registered in late 2019 to a 5.5% to 6.5% GDP growth, following the pandemic. The NEDA cited the decline in service exports, especially tourism. Moody’s Analytics also reduced their GDP growth outlook for the country, from 5.9% in 2019 to 4.9% following the pandemic.
The Philippines’ real GDP contracted by 0.2% in the first quarter of 2020, the first contraction since the fourth quarter of 1998, a year after the Asian financial crisis, with a technical recession deemed “likely” to be posted within 2020.On the other hand, the BSP records an inflation rate of 2.2% in April and 2.5% in March compared from 2.6% in February and 2.9% in January. The average rate of 2.6% for the period of January to April 2020 is also 1% lower compared to the inflation rate from the same period in the previous year. The event was primarily and hugely caused by lower oil prices and transportation costs.
In terms of the amount of economic loss that the Philippines is projected to suffer, NEDA gave a value of up to 2.0 trillion, or equivalent to about 9.4% of 2020 nominal GDP, while the Philippine Institute for Development Studies estimates at a maximum of 2.5 trillion. International organizations also gave their predictions, with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation envisioning a 273-billion loss and the Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières envisioning a combined loss of more than 1 trillion just in the month of April.
On March 9, 2020, the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) index lost 457.77 points or 6.76%, its steepest decline since the financial crisis of 2007–08. The following day, shares plunged by 6.23% to ₱5,957.35 (US$117.54), settling below the 6,000 level benchmark and entering the bear market territory. The mining and oil industries were the most affected with a 9.05% drop, followed by holding companies with a 6.93% drop.
In terms of unemployment rate, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) records an estimated unemployment rate of 5.3% in January 2020, which is the same with January 2019. Moody’s Analytics puts its estimate at 5.3% for the first quarter of 2020, while Nomura expects 7.5% for Q1 and a 13-year high of 8% in Q2 of this year. Meanwhile, the IMF stated that the unemployment rate in the country would be 6.2% for this year compared to 5.1% in 2019.
The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines estimates that around 7,000 people may lose jobs within the first half of 2020 due to the pandemic. Economists from the Ateneo de Manila University estimate that 57% of the country’s workforce may be displaced within the end of the first quarter of 2020. It comprises around 15 million workers in Luzon that were laid off due to the enhanced community quarantine, around four million of whom are based in Metro Manila, as well as an estimated 4.3 million workers in Visayas and another 4.3 million in Mindanao that were laid off due to quarantine restrictions.