Updated: Mar 16
As of March 15, 2020, there have been 140 confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Philippines. To contain the spread of the novel Coronavirus, the government announced a monthlong lockdown in Metro Manila. At least 12 million people in Metro is barred from travelling outside the National Capital Region starting today to April 14, 2020.
House Ways and Means Committee chairman Jose Ma. Salceda said closing off Metro Manila for at least a week will minimize the risk of mass transmission of the virus.
“The 10 cases are in Metro Manila. So if there would be a case outside Manila, it could have originated from Metro Manila. The solution is just easy, you just close SLEX, NLEX, the railways, no domestic flights, and no bus trips".
The Health department later on Monday reported that the number of COVID-19 cases has risen to 140. Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante Jr., who represents Manila’s sixth district, said the government should consider implementing “drastic measures” to avoid further spread of the virus.
"At this point, all options should be on the table given that the National Capital Region is the most densely populated area in the country," said Abante in a statement.
President Rodrigo Duterte has proclaimed a state of a public health emergency. This allows authorities to enforce mandatory quarantine of travellers. Salceda said an outbreak will be costly to the economy. "You may also declare work stoppage in Metro Manila. Because the congregation of mass transmission is there, he said. It will be costly to the economy if we have this virus".
Although Abante said the economy should not be put at risk. "It also says that outbreaks of disease are more frequent and more severe when the population density is high, which happens to be the case in Metro Manila, particularly my district,”. He added, "Whatever precautions we take while guarding the health of the public, should not result in the paralysis of the country."
Meanwhile, Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said a lockdown is not needed for now. "We are still at sub-level 1. We are not yet at the stage where we need to implement a lockdown. If we reached the sub-level 2 of Code Red, it means that we already have sustained community transmission. That's the trigger to use strategic interventions like lockdown."