No need for lockdown in Metro Manila, Año says

Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo

INTERIOR and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año said on Wednesday, March 11, that there is no compelling reason yet to place the National Capital Region (NCR) under lockdown as preventive measure against the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

“As of now, wala pang reason para mag-lockdown nasa Code Red sub-level 1 pa lang tayo. We’ll go up to sub-level 2 kapag me confirmed community transmission of the virus," he said in a text message.

The decision to raise the alert level lies with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, which is led by the Department of Health (DOH).

Should a lockdown be implemented, it will last for 14 days, the incubation period for the respiratory disease, which is caused by the novel coronavirus.

“The size of the area for community lockdown will depend on the affectations. Movement will be strictly restricted because the purpose is to contain the virus. The IATF EID will come up with the protocol containing specific details before the issuance of a lockdown order,” Año said.

“It’s 14 days because that’s the incubation of the virus. With that, you’ll be ble to stop the activity of the virus, its spread,” he added.

Meanwhile, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Archie Gamboa said 38,000 policemen from the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) and the national headquarters will be deployed at the entry and exit points in Metro Manila once a lockdown is declared.

“Ang lockdown kasi you should get a signal from the DOH (Department of Health) and certain protocols must be observed but the PNP will always be there,” he said.

“We will be utilizing the NCRPO (which) has a strength of around 28,000, the PNP here in Camp Crame to include national support units is around 10,000. So more or less we have 38,000 to 40,000 to utilize in case these things would come up,” he added.

The confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country shot up from three to 33 cases in the last five days. All patients are in Metro Manila.

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the suspension of classes in all levels in both public and private schools until March 14 as part of social distancing measures to prevent the spread of the disease.

The PNP, along with the local government units, have been tasked to caution children loitering on the streets to go home.

“We agreed upon that in places of convergence, minors, or those eighteen years old and below, who are unsupervised will be cautioned by the police officers to go back home,” NCRPO Director Debold Sinas said in a statement on Wednesday.

“In the first place, classes are suspended for them to stay at home and not to hangout or meet with their friends. I call for everyone especially the parents to keep an eye on your children. Let them stay at home and keep them away from places like internet cafe, markets and malls,” he added.

Major General Sinas said curfew hours for minors will be fully and strictly implemented.

The DOH and the DILG have also ordered the cancellation of public gatherings. (SunStar Philippines)