A joint task force of state forces has been formed to handle border management, as Metro Manila is set to undergo a month-long community quarantine to contain the fast-spreading coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), scheduled at midnight of Sunday, March 15.
Due to growing concerns about local transmissions of the disease, the Philippine government will place Metro Manila under “general community quarantine” starting Sunday.
The “community quarantine” is scheduled from March 15 to April 14, 2020.
The task force is composed of the police, military, coast guard personnel and firefighters, Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, deputy director for operations of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said.
“Kami ang magi-implement ng checkpoint operations and other enforcement efforts (We will implement the checkpoint operations and other enforcement efforts),” Eleazar said during a press conference.
Government authorities will attempt to restrict movement in Metro Manila in a bid to contain COVID-19.
Eleazar, the task force commander, said they are expected to release specific guidelines on border checkpoints on Saturday, a day before the community quarantine starts.
Authorities have yet to release a list of border checkpoints.
“Maglalabas kami ng specific locations kung saan gagawa ng checkpoint in coordination with the local government units (We will release the specific locations where the border checkpoints will be implemented in coordination with the local government units.),” said Eleazar.
State troops will also man checkpoints in Metro Manila to check on the movement of local residents as a precautionary measure against COVID-19.
“Basically we want to restrict the non-essential entry and exit of people from and to Metro Manila,” he said.
The country has recorded a total of 98 cases of COVID-19, which included 8 fatalities, the Department of Health (DOH) said.
The virus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has infected more than 132,000 and killed nearly 5,000 in 122 countries and territories, latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO) showed.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri on Saturday urged the Department of Health and private hospitals to use drugs that were allegedly effective against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) but were neither approved by the World Health Organization nor by the DOH.
“We now have one of the highest death rates of COVID-19 cases in the region at almost 10%… try the drugs already in use by Thailand, Korea, and India where it seems to be working and they have lessened their death rates,” Zubiri said in a Facebook post.
Zubiri added that patients needed to be given the option to have these drugs, none of which the senator identified, used on them.
“If we wait, more people will die here in the country. We should allow the patients to sign a waiver to try these drugs, please. It should be an option they can take,” he said.
The DOH has previously said that new drugs that aim to counter the virus would not be used in the Philippines without first undergoing the country’s regulatory processes and passing the WHO’s evaluations./Stacy Ang