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Philippines restricts domestic travel to and from NCR over COVID-19 threat

The Philippine government has restricted travel to and from Metro Manila starting on March 15 as part of the community quarantine to control the spread of COVID-19.

"Land, domestic air, and domestic sea travel to and from Metro Manila shall be suspended after beginning March 15, 2020 and to end on April 14, 2020, alas dose subject to the daily review of the Inter-Agency Task Force," President Rodrigo Duterte said in a televised address on Thursday night.

“The crisis is very, very clear,” Duterte said, following a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

The movement of goods to and from Metro Manila will not be affected by the quarantine.  “Cargoes, food and non-food okay to move,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said in a text message.

Officials of the road sector of the Department of Transportation will meet with interior and health officials on Friday to define the rules of the quarantine in Metro Manila.

"We will update you once we have the guidelines already," Transportation Undersecretary Goddess Libiran said on Friday night.

Local government units in other areas were advised to abide by the following guidelines in imposing localized community quarantine in their respective jurisdictions:

  • A barangay quarantine is advised when there are at least two positive COVOD-19 cases belonging to different households in the same barangay;
  • A municipality/city-wide quarantine is advised when there are at least two positive COVID-19 cases belonging to different barangays in the same municipality/city; and
  • A province-wide quatrantine is advised when there are at least two positive COVID-19 cases belonging to different municipalities/cities in the same province; and

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.

“It’s just a matter of protecting public interest and public health,” he said.

Mass gatherings, planned or spontaneous, will also be prohibited, Duterte said.

The Philippines has so far 52 confirmed cases, including five deaths, as of Thursday, according to the Department of Health.

Duterte urged the people not to panic, follow the orders of government and practice social distancing.

“Do not kill yourself with worry. Government is doing everything to make it at least controllable,” he said.

Duterte’s latest policy pronouncement came after several administration officials and senators announced that they have self-quarantined following exposure to persons who tested positive for the disease.

A number of government agencies have also suspended work to give way to the disinfection of their offices.

Since the virus was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan last December, the number of confirmed infections globally surpassed 118,000. Fifty-two of these cases have been recorded in the Philippines.

The virus has already killed more than 4,200 people, including five in the Philippines, which is now under a state of public health emergency.

The World Health Organization declared on Wednesday the viral outbreak a pandemic. —NB/JST, GMA News