The Philippines has responded decisively to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic with measures that will restrict group movements in the next one-month period until April 12, 2020.
The restrictions will pose problems for all concerned – the workers and their employers, students at a time when the school year is ending, local officials and police who will enforce the restrictions. But they are needed to to keep the people safe from a disease that is now spreading unimpeded around the world.
The “lockdown” is only being implemented to keep the people safe from the disease, President Duterte said Thursday night. “It is an issue of protecting the public interest.” It is bound to disrupt the operations of entire companies and other organizations and the daily efforts of people to go to work, as well as basic household activities, but it is a move that we must all support with our full cooperation, contributing whatever we can for its effective implementation.
The manufacturing and service establishments were urged to remain in full operation but in view of the restrictions on the movement of people, they will have to implement flexible work arrangements. The need for “social distancing” will be specially difficult to implement for the hundreds of thousands of workers who need to take buses and the metro rails to get to work. Their offices will have to draw up plans to meet this problem, perhaps including office transportation.
There will be no classes in schools during the entire one-month period. This will affect the scheduled classes and other school activities leading to the graduation rites normally held in the month of March. Our schools will have to make the needed adjustments.
Government offices will likewise cut down on their usual work schedules so as to keep their employees home during the month-long period. It will be the police forces and the health workers who will have to remain at work in full force.
The Philippines is taking this move to stop the spread of the coronavirus along with many other countries around the world. As of last Thursday, the number of cases around the world had exceeded 124,000, with 4,500 deaths. There was a jump in the fatalities in Italy, Iran, and Spain, although China appeared to have it under conrol within its borders.
The World Health Organization finally declared the coronavirus a pandemic last Wednesday as more counries reported cases and deaths. “We‘re deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
The Philippines was the first country outside China to report a death – a visiting Chinese from Wuhan – and now has a total of 52 cases and five deaths. We are determined to do all we can to keep our cases down and President Duterte’s order Thursday night for restrictions on the movement of people in Metro Manila and the rest of the country will support the growing worldwide effort to stop the pandemic that COVID-19 has become.