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‘Total lockdown’ in Metro Manila sought to contain coronavirus

/ 01:19 PM March 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Monday called for a “total lockdown” in Metro Manila, amid the increasing cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country, most of which are being treated in hospitals in the capital region.

In a statement, Gatchalian said that community quarantine does not prevent COVID-19 infected people who do not exhibit symptoms of the disease from getting outside of their households, making it possible for the asymptomatic transmission to happen.

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President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday night placed the capital region under “community quarantine” from March 15 to April 14, with land, air and sea travel banned to and from Metro Manila.

“Sa kabila ng umiiral na community quarantine, nakita natin kanina ang mga manggagawa na pila-pila sa mga iba’t ibang terminal ng pampublikong sasakyan. Gusto natin ang mga tao na mag-practice ng social distancing pero pagdating sa mga terminal ng bus, UV express, at maging sa MRT ay siksikan pa din ang mga tao,” Gatchalian said.

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Under a total lockdown, the senator said people will have to strictly observe staying indoors, while all areas of convergence such as parks, malls, churches and other places of gatherings will be strictly shut and all public and private vehicles will strictly be barred in and out of Metro Manila to contain the virus.

The lawmaker added that the government should see to it that private companies and other private organizations should implement a work-from-home scheme.

If Metro Manila borders will not be completely sealed off, Gatchalian warned that we may be overwhelmed by the rising number of COVID-19 cases.

The Department of Health has so far reported 140 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 12 of whom have already died.

“This is the situation that we fear. Iran has nearly 14,000 confirmed cases with 724 deaths while the number of cases in Italy has already ballooned to 24,747 and 368 of them died. If we don’t do any drastic measure to avoid people-to-people contact, we are heading that way,” he said.

“Again, the situation calls for more drastic actions to prevent COVID-19 from spreading outside Metro Manila and anywhere in the country. Everyone’s cooperation is needed in the fight against this dreaded virus. If this means that the government must implement more stringent measures to protect the safety and welfare of everyone, then this is the bitter pill we need to swallow,” Gatchalian said.

The World Health Organization declared the disease as a global pandemic.

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Gatchalian himself tested negative of the disease after he interacted with a person who later tested positive for coronavirus disease. He is still completing his 14-day self-quarantine.

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