Metro Manila locked down

Published March 13, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin


By DR. FLORANGEL ROSARIO BRAID                              

Dr. Florangel Rosario Braid
Dr. Florangel Rosario Braid

A few days ago, the government admitted that that it was unable to contain  COVID-19 which it declared was a pandemic as it had already affected many countries, the number of cases growing exponentially.  Economists estimated that the costs at 0.8% of economic growth  should it last for six months.

A few minutes ago, President Duterte declared a “lockdown” of Metro Manila from March 15 to April 14. This, after Covid-19 reached the maximum  Code Red Sublevel 2, marking the first massive lockdown which would affect  12 million people in 16 cities and 1 municipality,
As of today,  52 have registered positive with the virus, and five deaths.

Following discussions with health officials and members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, the Chief Executive approved the imposition of Stringent Social Distancing Measures in the National Capital Region for 30 days with these directives:

First, classes at all levels will be suspended for a month with students remaining in their respective homes for the duration.

Second, mass gatherings, defined as events where the number of people attending could strain the planning and response resources of the community hosting the event, shall be prohibited during the aforesaid period.

Third, community quarantine is imposed in the entire Metro Manila. Guidelines for barangays, municipalities, and provinces differ, and depend on the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the community.

Fourth, work in the Executive Branch shall be suspended during the same period, without prejudice to the formation of skeletal workforces by government agencies. Congress and the Judiciary are encouraged to adopt the same policy. Law enforcement agencies, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police as well as health and emergency frontline services continue in full operation

Fifth, flexible work arrangements shall be encouraged in the private sector allowing guidelines from the Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Trade and Industry designed to safeguard the welfare of the workers. All manufacturing, retail, and service establishments shall remain in operation during the same period, provided that strict social distancing measures are observed.

Sixth, mass public transports such as the Light Railway Transit, and the Philippine National Railway shall continue in operation, following guidelines by the Department of Transportation intended to ensure social distancing.

Seventh, land, domestic air, and domestic sea travel to and from Metro Manila shall be suspended beginning March 15, 2020, until April 14, 2020.

All these measures shall be subject to daily monitoring and reassessments by the Inter-Agency Task Force.

Finally, entry travel restrictions shall be imposed upon those traveling from countries with localized COVID-19 transmissions, except for Filipino citizens and their foreign spouse and children, if any, holders of permanent resident visas, and holders of diplomatic visas issued by the Philippine government.

While a total and absolute lockdown is considered by some as a valid preventive measure, current circumstances do not warrant such an extreme course of action.

We now join Italy, a country of 6o million people, Hubei province with nearly 60 million residents and locked down since January, and Macau a major resort city of 646,449  one of the top destinations for gambling tourism.  A special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China, Macau’s population consists of Chinese (88%), Filipino (4.6 %), and the rest Vietnamese and other nationalities, with 38 million visitors each year.

The lockdown of Macau as one can see is total. It closed all offices, banks, hotels, restaurants, shops, parks, and schools.  No people were allowed to go out and there was limited transportation.  There was efficient distribution of masks, e.g., a person is entitled to have 10 pieces and after 10 days, he can buy another 10 pieces. Every hour the status of the virus was announced all over the place and staff members were assigned to check every person’s body temperature. Health advisories were given online and all borders were closed.  Everyone followed rules and followed government orders.

(To be continued)

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