In an official announcement on May 11, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said in a televised address to the nation that he will extend the lockdown in the country beyond nine weeks in “some areas” this weekend in one of the world’s strictest and longest quarantines to contain coronavirus pandemic. As COVID-19 cases nationwide crossed the 11,000 mark, the Philippine government was under pressure to partially lift 2-month-old restrictions as of May 11.
As per local media reports, after meeting advisers and health authorities at the presidential palace late Monday, Duterte, the administration, and the mayors that makeup Metropolitan Manila – composed of 16 cities and one town –decided to extend the confinement guidelines to curb the virus. Further, post a meeting with his COVID-19 task force, the country resolved to adhere to containment efforts for 11 weeks, longer than the 76-day quarantine in the Chinese city of Wuhan, Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak.
With over 158,000 tests so far- many fewer than other countries –Philippines reported a slump in the rate of infection in recent weeks with 150-300 cases recorded per day, as per a news agency report. President Duterte, however, instructed authorities to put Metro Manila, Laguna province south of the capital and Cebu City in the Visayas under a modified enhanced community quarantine from May 16 to May 31. While Harry Roque, his spokesman said at a televised briefing that stay-at-home orders imposed on the central and southern parts of the Luzon island, and several provinces in Visayas and in Mindanao would be lifted post-May 15.
A chief implementer of measures to stem the COVID-19, Carlito Galvez, was quoted saying that Philippines cannot afford to be on a quarantine for a long period, expressing disagreement to extended guidelines. Further, he added, there had to be a balance between health and economy while speaking at a daily briefing. The Philippines has to ease restrictions, he stressed. Greater Manila, the capital region accounted for 4% of the country’s 11,086 cases as of May 11, and 72% of the 726 total deaths, according to reports. It remains the epicenter of infections with at least 13 million people imposed under the lockdown to stem the transmission in the otherwise crowded region.
(Image Credit: AP)