Members of the Interagency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases yesterday met at Malacañang and agreed to implement sweeping measures to contain the spread of infection, including banning mass gatherings, extending class suspensions and imposing a “localized community quarantine” for areas with confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Michael Varcas
One-month community quarantine for Metro Manila
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - March 13, 2020 - 12:00am

No lockdown, no martial law   

MANILA, Philippines —  It’s no “lockdown,” officials said, but Metro Manila is being placed under a monthlong “community quarantine” to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) starting March 15.

Members of the Interagency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases yesterday met at Malacañang and agreed to implement sweeping measures to contain the spread of infection, including banning mass gatherings, extending class suspensions and imposing a “localized community quarantine” for areas with confirmed COVID-19 cases.

“Community quarantine is hereby imposed in the entirety of Metro Manila,” the task force’s resolution read, as the Code Red alert was raised to Sublevel 2

President Duterte, who presided over the meeting, justified the measures, saying these were intended to protect the public from the contagion.

“This is not martial law. It’s not even something extraordinary... (There is no other reason) but to fight the virus and exact compliance,” the President said in a televised address last night after the meeting.

“To my countrymen, do not panic. Do not be stressed out. You can still do what you want to do ,but there are restrictions because of the crisis,” the President said.

“The crisis is very, very clear. COVID-19 is spreading all throughout the country.”

While ruling out martial law, Duterte said the military and police would maintain order “if things deteriorate.”

The President admitted that the task force avoided the use of the word “lockdown” because it would instill fear among the public.

“Ayaw namin gamitin yan pero kasi takot kayo, sabihin lockdown (We don’t want to use it. It might scare you, you might say it’s a lockdown) but it’s a lockdown. But there’s no struggle of power here,” the President said.

“There is no rift... It’s only a matter of protecting and defending you from COVID-19. That’s just about it... it’s an issue of protecting public interest and public health.”

Speaking to the hosts of “The Chiefs” aired over Cignal TV’s One News channel, Trade Undersecretary Ruth Castelo said under a community quarantine, it would be “business as usual, only slower.”

Local government units (LGUs) outside Metro Manila were advised to impose localized community quarantine if certain conditions are met. The task force said an entire barangay, municipality, city or province should be placed under quarantine when there are at least two positive COVID-19 cases within its jurisdiction.

“LGUs which have imposed community quarantine in their respective jurisdictions, upon the declaration of a state of calamity, shall be allowed to access their quick response fund,” the task force said in the resolution.

The task force also suspended land, domestic, air and domestic sea travel to and from Metro Manila from March 15 to April 14 subject to daily review by the task force.

The task force’s meeting was held four days after President Duterte declared a state of public health emergency throughout the Philippines due to the local transmission of the disease

Last Monday, Duterte said it was too early to implement a lockdown because the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 is not that high.

A lockdown would also make it difficult for supplies to enter affected areas, the President had said.

Class and work suspension

The task force also extended the suspension of classes in Metro Manila by four weeks or until April 12. The government initially suspended Metro Manila classes in all levels from March 9 to 14.

“Concerned local government units with supervision of the Department of (the) Interior and Local Government shall be responsible for implementing measures to ensure that students remain in their homes during said duration,” the task force read.

Duterte reminded local governments outside Metro Manila that they should not suspend classes due to trivial reasons

Mass gatherings or planned or spontaneous events where the number of people attending could strain the planning and response resources of the community hosting the event will also be prohibited.

COVID-19 METRO MANILA LOCKDOWN RODRIGO DUTERTE
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