The Philippines government is seeking an extension in special powers to fight the coronavirus as the country’s case count passed 17,000 on Saturday.

According to news website Rappler, President Rodrigo Duterte wants the special powers granted to him, which end in June, to be extended until September.

“We prefer a 90-day extension of the current powers granted to the president,” spokesperson Harry Roque said.

The law allows Duterte to cancel scheduled events and activities and divert their funds towards coronavirus containment measures.

He can also take over private medical facilities and public transportation, use government funds to help low-income families, and give special risk allowances to health workers along with hazard pay, the report said.

The development comes as 590 more COVID-19 cases pushed the Philippines’ total to 17,224.

The Department of Health said 252 of these cases were “fresh”, while the remaining 338 were “positive results returned late.”

Eight more COVID-19 patients died over the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 950.

Recoveries reached 3,808 after 88 more people were discharged from hospitals across the country, the Health Department said.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement that 2,869 citizens have contracted COVID-19 in countries around the world.

– Japan emerges from lockdown

A majority of Japan’s provinces are set to fully reopen their economies on Monday, following the end of the nationwide state of emergency.

Japan lifted a lockdown in all 47 provinces on May 25 and business activities will restart in at least 38 provinces from next week, Kyodo News reported.

Schools will also reopen across the country, even though the government is also grappling with a proposal to push the start of the academic year to September.

Amid concerns of a possible second wave of infections in Japan, almost 80% percent of city mayors have opposed the proposal, according to Kyodo News.

On Saturday, recreational spots in parts of the country were swarming with people, the first weekend since the end of the emergency.

Beaches and parks were particularly crowded in Kanagawa province, daily Mainichi reported.

Japan has recorded 16,719 COVID-19 cases so far, including 874 deaths.

South Korea cases drop

South Korea reported a welcome decrease in new coronavirus cases on Saturday.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 39 more people tested positive for COVID-19, raising the total to 11,441.

The figure was significantly less than numbers reported over recent days, as the country faces a second wave of cases.

Just two days earlier, South Korea reported 79 new cases – the highest in over 50 days – after a cluster of infections was found linked to a business center.

Authorities have ramped up efforts to enforce safety guidelines and social distancing measures to stem the spread of the virus, which has claimed 269 lives in the country to date.

Copyright 2022 Anadolu Agency. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.