The president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte has said that he will jail people who refuse the Covid vaccination, as the country battles one of Asia’s worst outbreaks.
Speaking in a televised address on Monday, Mr Duterte said: “You choose, vaccine or I will have you jailed.”
He later gave his reasoning saying: “If you are a person who is not vaccinated, you are a potential carrier.”
The announcement comes as the number of cases of coronavirus in the Philippines has hit a cumulative total of more than 1.3 million cases and 23,000 deaths.
Meanwhile, there have been reports of low turnouts in several of the vaccination centres in the country’s capital, Manila.
Mr Duterte’s remarks went against those of his health officials, who said that although people are being urged to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, it is not compulsory.
“Don’t get me wrong, there is a crisis in this country,” Mr Duterte said. “I’m just exasperated by Filipinos not heeding the government.”
The Philippines’ president has often been criticised for his tough approach to containing the virus but, in his address, he stood by his decision to prevent schools from reopening.
He also stressed that quarentine was compulsory, even for those who have had both jabs, and voiced concerns over a second wave further depleting the country’s resou rces.
As of Sunday, Philippine authorities had given two doses of the vaccine to 2.1 million people, which is slow progress towards the government’s target of up to 70 million people of the country’s population of 110 million.