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Thursday, March 12, 2020

Philippines Announces Coronavirus Lockdown Of Metro Manila


MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday evening announced a lockdown of the national capital region, Metro Manila, to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

“Land, domestic air, and domestic sea travel to and from Metro Manila shall be suspended beginning 12 midnight on March 15, 2020 until April 14, 2020,” Duterte said.

To avoid using the term “lockdown,” the president referred to the move as “community quarantine.”

“We don’t want to use that term (lockdown) because it stokes fear. But it’s a lockdown. There’s no struggle of power here . . . it’s just an issue of protecting and defending you (the public) from COVID-19,” he said.

Metro Manila comprises 16 cities — Manila, Quezon City, Caloocan, Las Pinas, Makati, Malabon, Mandaluyong, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Paranaque, Pasay, Pasig, San Juan, Taguig, and Valenzuela, — and the municipality of Pateros. The region’s population is more than 12 million.

While mass gatherings will be prohibited during the period, public transport within Metro Manila will remain operational. Schools are suspended until April.

With a series of measures advised for the public and private sector, Duterte said they will be subject to daily monitoring and reassessment by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

Image: CNN Philippines
“The crisis is very, very clear. Covid-19 is spreading all throughout the country,” the president said, as he urged members of the public not to panic and to practice social distancing.

Interior and local government secretary Eduardo Ano explained in a radio interview that while travel is being restricted in and out of Metro Manila, “it is not a total lockdown.”

“We are just restricting movement coming in and going out of Metro Manila because we want to prevent the spread of the virus,” he said, adding that those working in Metro Manila who live outside the capital region will be allowed entry.

Duterte himself was tested for the coronavirus on Thursday afternoon, as several members of his cabinet went on self-quarantine following exposure to infected individuals.

There are now 52 confirmed coronavirus cases in the Philippines. The Department of Health has raised the virus death toll to five.

[ By Arab News ]

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