Officials have evacuated almost a million residents in the southern part of the Philippines’ main island of Luzon as a category five storm — the world’s strongest this year — makes landfall on Sunday.
- Typhoon Goni is amongst the strongest to hit the Philippines since the devastating Typhoon Haiyan in 2013
- The Philippines has the second-highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths in South-East Asia
- The country is still reeling from Typhoon Molave, which killed 22 Filipinos last week
Typhoon Goni, with 215 kph sustained winds and gusts of up to 265 kph, will bring violent winds and strong rains, state weather and disaster officials said.
It is among the strongest typhoons to hit the Philippines since Haiyan, which killed more than 6,300 people in 2013.
“We are having a hard time with COVID-19, and then here comes another disaster,” Senator Christopher Go, the top aide of President Rodrigo Duterte, told a virtual news conference.
Local executives should ensure that the virus does not spread in evacuation centres, he said.
Officials have started pre-emptive evacuations, with Albay province bringing 794,000 residents to safety, Ricardo Jalad, executive director of the national disaster agency, told a news conference.
In the capital Manila and nearby Bulacan province, roughly 1,000 COVID-19 patients housed in large isolation tents could be transferred to hotels and hospitals, Mr Jalad said.
The Philippines has the second-highest COVID-19 infections and deaths in South-East Asia, next only to Indonesia, with 380,729 cases and 7,221 deaths.
Typhoon Molave last week killed 22 people, mostly through drowning in provinces south of Manila, which is also in the projected path of Goni, the 18th tropical storm in the country this year.
Local officials cancelled port operations and barred fishers from setting sail. Airlines cancelled dozens of flights.
Typhoon Goni, moving westward from the Pacific Ocean, will bring intense rains over the capital and 21 adjacent provinces early on Sunday (local time), and threats of floods and landslides.
Another typhoon, Atsani, with 55 kph sustained winds and gusts of up to 70 kph, is gaining strength just outside the Philippines.
An average 20 typhoons, bringing heavy rains that trigger deadly landslides, hit the Philippines annually.