President Duterte has placed the entire Metro Manila under community quarantine on Thursday night (March 12) as a way to contain the spread of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which has now taken the lives of five persons in the country.
Duterte, in nationally televised address, also said the Philippines is now under Code Red Sub-Level 2 alert, the highest level.
Community quarantine means there will be no land, domestic air and domestic sea travel to and from Metro Manila from March 15 to April 14. However, intra-region travel via mass transports like trains and metro rail transit will be allowed.
Duterte assured that this “lockdown” is now a Martial Law but is necessary in the fight against COVID-19.
“Ayaw naming gamitin yan kasi takot sa lockdown, but it’s a lockdown,. There is no struggle of power here, it is a matter of protecting and defending you from COVID-19,” he said.
Duterte added: “It’s subject again for review day to day, tingnan namin nangyayari if there is a slowdown in the contagion… Hindi ito martial law. It is not a martial law. It is not even something extraordinary. But what is sought to be solved here is the again, walang iba except to fight the virus, and to exact compliance.”
Duterte also suspended work in the government’s Executive Branch, except for those dealing with health and emergency matters. Offices, however, need to ensure there will be a skeletal force manning their agencies.
Private firms, while encouraged to continue operations, will need to practice strict social distancing measures.
Classes for all levels in Metro Manila have been suspended up to April 12.
“Mass gatherings, defined as a planned or spontaneous event, where the number of people attending could strain the planning and response resources of the community hosting the event, shall be prohibited during said period,” he also declared.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country has risen to 52 as of Thursday night, with fatalities at 5. Four of those who died were Filipinos. The first fatality was a Chinese.
Several national government officials, local executives and lawmakers, meanwhile, have placed themselves under self-quarantine after they appeared in events that were attended by COVID-19-infected persons.
President also had himself tested for COVID-19 after he attended an event last March 5 where a COVID-19 patient was present.