Members of the Manila Police District Sta. Cruz police station set up a check point along Blumentritt Street in Manila on Sunday night to remind the public of the proper social distancing measure inside passenger jeepneys and the implementation of curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman
Duterte places entire Luzon under 'enhanced' community quarantine
Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - March 16, 2020 - 3:32pm

MANILA, Philippines (5th update at 10:13 p.m.) — President Rodrigo Duterte declared an "enhanced community quarantine" over the entire Luzon including Metro Manila as part of a continuous push to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus disease.

This comes as the latest in a string of measures after Duterte last week approved the hoisting of Code Red Sublevel 2 and placing Metro Manila under community quarantine.

A newly issued memorandum from the Palace on the enhanced quarantine guides government agencies to ensure the following:

  • Prohibition of mass gatherings and imposition of strict home quarantine among all households

"Movement shall be limited to accessing basic necessities, provision for food and essential health services shall be regulated," the memorandum states. "And there will be heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce quarantine procedures."

  • Work-from-home arrangement for the executive branch

"Except the [Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine Coast Guard and health and emergency frontline services, border control and other critical services which shall ensure a skeletal workforce."

  • Only essential establishments are to remain open

"Only those private establishments providing basic necessities and such activities related to food and medicine production i.e. public markets, supermarkets, groceries, convenience stores, hospitals, medical clinics, pharmacies and drug stores, food preparation and delivery services, water-refilling stations, manufacturing and processing plants of basic food products and medicines, power energy, water and telecommunications supplies and facilities shall be open."

READ: Restricted movement in mainland Luzon until April 12 due to COVID-19 quarantine

Despite the continued operations of the businesses falling under the above categories, they are required to adopt "strict skeletal workforce to support operations" and staff will also observe social distancing measures. Restaurants, meanwhile, are only allowed to deliver food but not open their establishments to dine-in and walk-in customers, said Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles at a press conference.

Export-oriented industries and business process outsourcing companies can also remain operational provided that they offer temporary accommodations to their personnel and observe social distancing as well.

Media practitioners will also be allowed to travel within the quarantine area as long as they are accredited via the Presidential Communications Operations Office.

  • Suspension of mass public transport facilities

Only private vehicles are allowed if the intention is to secure basic necessities like food and medicines. Only one person per family is allowed to buy essential items.

Employees who would normally take public transportation can be provided with private vehicles by their companies or by the local government unit.

READ: No mass transportation amid 'enhanced community quarantine' in Luzon

  • Restricted land, air and sea travel

Outbound passengers can still push through with travel plans within the next 72 hours since the declaration of the enhanced quarantine, that is until Thursday, March 19.

Inbound passengers who are in transit will still be allowed entry but will be subject to quarantine procedures if coming from countries covered by the travel restrictions.

Inbound Filipino citizens and holders of permanent resident visas will also still be allowed entry. They should also expect to be subject to quarantine procedures if coming from countries heavily affected by the outbreak.

  • Labor, social welfare, finance, budget and trade departments to come up with programs for affected workers and businesses

"These measures may include, but shall not be limited to, moratorium on lease rentals, advancing a pro-rated thirteenth-month pay, reprieve in utility bills, and assistance to micro-, small- and medium-scale enterprises," the memorandum states.

READ: Duterte urges early release of 13th month pay as coronavirus-related job losses loom

The Department of Social Welfare and Development was also tasked to come up with solutions for food assistance to those most affected across Luzon.

Not a 'total lockdown'

What the Cabinet officials proposed earlier on Monday, however, was a total lockdown of Metro Manila which they did not call an enhanced quarantine.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo bared that the proposal would be taken up at the meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force behind the administration's response to the worsening virus. 

READ: NCRPO sees smoother implementation of quarantine by next week

"A total lockdown would mean closing of all establishments, it would mean also work or classes are suspended," he explained to reporters at a briefing earlier that morning at Malacañang.

Panelo assured the public that food supply in a lockdown would not be a cause for concern. "We will not stop the entry of food supply. Markets should also remain open. I think even in Macau, they remained open," Panelo said.

The Department of Interior and Local Government last week asked the media to use the term "lockdown" sparingly in their reportage as this word could trigger panic.

Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya earlier said that a lockdown would mean that people would be confined and not allowed to leave. 

READ: 'Is it a lockdown or a community quarantine?' Your questions about latest move vs COVID-19 answered

“That’s why the word lockdown is usually used with relation to prisoners. So when China declared a lockdown in Wuhan, their citizens are not allowed to leave those cities and the highways were closed. That’s a lockdown,” he said in a statement sent to reporters.

But at Thursday night's address, the President admitted, "Ayaw naming gamitin 'yan. But there is a lockdown."

 

--

If you believe you have come into possible contact with infected patients, you may be directed to the proper office of the Department of Health for advice through the following lines: (632) 8651-7800 local 1149-1150 or (632) 165-364.

You may also opt to call the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine at (02) 8807-2631/ 8807-2632/ 8807-2637.

COMMUNITY QUARANTINE COVID-19 METRO MANILA LOCKDOWN NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: April 8, 2020 - 4:08pm

Follow this page for updates on a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.

April 8, 2020 - 4:08pm

The Department of Health reports 106 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing the tally to 3,870.

There are 23 new recoveries and five new fatalities, the DOH adds.

April 8, 2020 - 3:32pm

Voicing joy and excitement from behind face masks, tens of thousands of people fled Wuhan on Wednesday after a 76-day travel ban was lifted on the Chinese city where the coronavirus first emerged.

Previously quiet train and bus stations bustled as an exodus began from the city of 11 million, with some passengers wearing hazmat suits.

Hao Mei, a single parent from the nearby city of Enshi, said her two children had been home alone since she got stuck in Wuhan, where she works in a school kitchen.

"You have no idea! I was already up around 4 am. I felt so good. My kids are so excited. Mum is finally coming home," the 39-year-old told AFP as she waited to board a train.

"At the start of the lockdown, I cried every night. I was really miserable, because my little girl is still young, she's only 10."

Up to 55,000 people are expected to leave Wuhan on Wednesday just by train, according to government estimates. -- AFP

April 8, 2020 - 12:14pm

The National Telecommunications Commission and United Nations Children’s Fund join hands with the telecommunications to ensure parents and children’s security both online and offline amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Upon UNICEF’s request, the NTC extends its support in spreading information to alleviate the situation. The telecommunications sector is sending out text blasts encouraging subscribers to visit unicef.ph and saferkidsph.org for information and tips on how to support parents and children in managing the impact of COVID-19. 

April 8, 2020 - 8:02am

US President Donald Trump threatens to put a "hold" on funds to the World Health Organization, accusing it of bias toward China and performing badly in the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump tells he was "going to put a very powerful hold on" the WHO, the UN body whose biggest funding source is the United States. He gave no details about how much money would be withheld or when. — AFP

April 8, 2020 - 8:01am

The worldwide number of fatalities from the novel coronavirus rises 80,142, according to a tally compiled by AFP at 1900 GMT from official sources.

More than 1,397,180 declared cases have been registered in 192 countries and territories since the epidemic first emerged in China in December. Of these cases, at least 257,100 are now considered recovered.

The tallies, using data collected by AFP offices from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections. — AFP

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