Philippines orders Cebu lockdowns, extension in Manila and high-risk areas to May 15
MANILA, NNA – The Philippine government has extended the pandemic lockdown on metropolitan Manila and 17 provinces in Luzon still considered 'high-risk' to May 15.
It has also declared lockdowns for places in the islands of Visayas and Mindanao including Cebu, Cebu City, Davao City, Antique, Iloilo and Davao del Norte until May 15, while easing restrictions in some other parts of the country after April 30.
Announced by presidential spokesman Harry Roque in a taped public address aired on Friday, the news came as the government continued to ramp up the country's healthcare capacity to tackle the rising number of coronavirus infection.
Aside from overcrowded Metro Manila, the period of enhanced community quarantine will be extended in surrounding provinces such as Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Bulacan, Rizal and Pampanga as well as in central Luzon after April 30, which was the scheduled end of the earlier restriction order.
The shutdown in several high-risk provinces outside of the main island of Luzon has been extended too. The government is still assessing the risk status in other places in the country before making a decision.
As of April 23, the number of confirmed cases reached 6,981 while 462 have died from Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The bulk of the cases or 4,673 are in the hardest-hit Metro Manila.
Epidemiologists had earlier cautioned against fully lifting of the lockdown especially in Metro Manila, but recommended a relaxation of restriction in some parts of the country that have showed a low number of infection or none at all.
A study by the University of the Philippines warned of a further surge of infection with more deaths if the lockdown especially in Metro Manila is prematurely lifted.
President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire Luzon island under a stringent shutdown in mid-March for more than two weeks before extending it to April 30 as the number of cases continued to rise. The enhanced community quarantine was also enforced in several provinces outside of Luzon to curb their rising number of infection.
The shutdowns have caused more than 1.6 million Filipinos to lose their jobs as of last week after businesses were shuttered and public transportation to come to a standstill.
Stringent measures imposed in Luzon, home to more than half of the country’s population and center of economic activity, are expected to result in huge business losses with the GDP forecast to drop to zero growth this year, according to the finance ministry.
Meanwhile, a “general community quarantine” till May 15 will be implemented in low-risk areas where the lockdown will be eased.
Workers there will be allowed to step out and return to work in phases. However, young children, senior citizens and those with high-risk health conditions must continue to stay indoors.
Malls will have restricted operations while public transportation will be re-opened after April 30 but at a reduced capacity. Night curfew would remain enforced for non-workers.
The general community quarantine will be relaxed after May 15 if things work out well with no resurgence of Covid-19 cases, said the presidential palace in its statement.