President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday has ordered a lockdown of the entire Luzon in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Malacañang has announced Monday afternoon.
“PRRD [Duterte] just announced an enhanced community quarantine in the entire Luzon,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.
According to Malacañang, based on the guidelines released by the Palace on Saturday, the government may implement an “enhanced community quarantine.”
Enhanced community quarantine, according to a Palace memo issued, is characterized by the following:
-strict home quarantine in all households
-suspended transportation lines
-regulated provision for food and essential health services
– heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce quarantine procedures will be implemented.
The order comes as the latest in a list of measures after Duterte last week approved the raising of Code Red Sublevel 2 and placing Metro Manila under community quarantine.
Duterte announced the new directive following a meeting with the government Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) leading the country’s response to the virus outbreak, and just two days since the National Capital Region (NCR) was placed under “community quarantine.”
Panelo earlier said he and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año are among the officials who called for a total lockdown of Metro Manila as more cases of COVID-19 were confirmed by health authorities.
“This is a matter of national survival. We have to be resigned to that fact. This is a matter of life and death. The only way to stop this is for us to help ourselves,” Panelo said during a Palace press briefing.
“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 (DILG) last week asked the media not to use the term “lockdown” 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.
“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.
But during last Thursday night’s address, Duterte was quoted saying, “Ayaw namin gamitin ‘yan. But there is a lockdown.”
Hundreds in Metro Manila faced community quarantine problems on Monday—ranging from cramped public utility vehicles to checkpoint problems—on the first day of the work week as the government locked in on measures to control the spread of COVID-19.
As of Sunday, there are 140 cases of COVID-19 in the country, including 12 fatalities.
More areas outside Metro Manila have declared quarantine measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 across the country.
The city of Cotabato, and Duterte’s hometown Davao City were placed under quarantine to prevent the spread of the disease in the southern Philippines.
The provinces of Cebu, and Negros Occidental also closed its borders from the rest of the country for 30 days.
Two villages in Floridablanca town in Pampanga, meantime, were placed under a 10-day community quarantine from 12 noon of March 14, Saturday, to 12 noon of March 24, Tuesday./Stacy Ang