House extends lockdown amid ‘alarming rise’ in COVID-19 cases
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives will remain on lockdown until next week amid the spike in COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila and nearby provinces, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said Friday.
“We have decided to extend the lockdown by another week from January 10 to 16 as a precautionary measure to protect the health and safety of House members and employees in view of an alarming rise in COVID-19 cases in NCR (National Capital Region) and adjacent provinces,” Velasco said in a statement.
The lower chamber, located at the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City, has been in lockdown since Tuesday, Jan. 4.
Velasco said regular work in the House will resume on January 17, when the legislature is also scheduled to convene for its first plenary session since the holiday break last December.
However, only 20 percent of the workforce in each office in the House will be allowed to report for work starting January 17, according to Velasco.
He said he has already directed House Secretary-General Mark Llandro Mendoza to ensure the strict implementation of the lockdown.
Velasco, meanwhile, advised lawmakers and employees to stay at home, as he assured them of continued access to virtual committee meetings, public hearings, and other events in the House during the lockdown period.
He also reiterated his appeal to the public to remain vigilant and continue all public health precautions against COVID-19.
“Now, more than ever, it is important to continue to wear a face mask, maintain proper physical distancing, practice good hygiene, and get vaccinated. For those who have already completed their primary doses of COVID-19 vaccine, get your booster shot once you’re eligible,” he said.
“These are small steps that will surely help us in a big way to protect ourselves and our loved ones from contracting the virus as we continue to fight this pandemic. We must not let our guard down,” he added.
The Department of Health on Thursday reported 17,220 additional COVID-19 cases—the highest single-day increase since September 24 last year.
Of the newly reported cases, 11,563 cases, or 68 percent, are from Metro Manila.
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