Curfew in Metro Manila is extended as Philippines grapples with Covid-19

Passengers wait at a bus terminal in Quezon City, Metro Manila, the Philippines, on Saturday (March 14). President Rodrigo Duterte said he would place some 12 million people in the Manila area on lockdown and even suspend government work for a month in an effort to stop the virus from spreading. - Bloomberg

MANILA: A curfew is going to be imposed again in Metro Manila of the Philippines, beginning Sunday (March 15), in a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said Saturday.

The curfew will be imposed from 8 pm to 5am, starting March 15 until April 14, it was disclosed.

The Philippines has now 64 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including six deaths.

"To limit the spread of the virus we need to limit also the movement of the people," Bong Nebrija of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority told a news conference.

The curfew was unanimously approved by the Metro Manila city and town officials. The World Health Organisation (WHO) also lauded the move.

Nebrija said those people who are working or doing "essential" works will be allowed outside during the curfew hours. These people include working people, medical workers, and people who are working in supermarkets, groceries and the like.

The officials said they will also ask malls to temporarily close. However, supermarkets or groceries, banks and pharmacies will remain open.

The curfew is part of the lockdown that the government will impose on Monday to fight the virus. The Philippines placed Metro Manila, home to nearly 13 million people, under community quarantine in a bid to halt the spread of the COVID-19.

Under the restriction, land, domestic air and sea travel to and from Metro Manila will be banned with exemptions, mass gatherings will be prohibited.

Meanwhile, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has tested negative for COVID-19, Senator Christopher Lawrence Go announced.

Duterte, 74, and his longtime aide, Go, were tested for Covid-19 on Thursday after they attended on March 5 an event where a coronavirus-positive person attended. Both tested negative.

"We are fit and healthy to perform our duties,” Go said in a statement.

While Duterte and Go do not have the symptoms of the virus, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said on Thursday that they have opted to undergo the test "to ensure that they are fit and healthy to perform their duties as government workers."

"They are undertaking this pre-emptive step as per advice of health officials given that they have regularly engaged with Cabinet officials, some of whom have opted to undergo self-quarantine as they were exposed to those infected with COVID-19,” Panelo added.

Many of the members of the Cabinet, lawmakers and local officials have opted to go on self-quarantine after they had been exposed to people who tested positive for Covid-19.
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