Philippines announces coronavirus lockdown of Metro Manila

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Workers disinfect a school following new cases of coronavirus in the city, in San Juan, Metro Manila, Philippines, Mar. 9, 2020. (Reuters)
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A girl wearing a protective mask, following an outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), stands on a sidewalk in Manila, Philippines, Mar. 12, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 12 March 2020

Philippines announces coronavirus lockdown of Metro Manila

  • More than 12 million people in the capital region under “community quarantine”
  • Land, air, and sea travel to Metro Manila will be suspended from March 15 to April 14

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday evening announced a lockdown of the national capital region, Metro Manila, to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
“Land, domestic air, and domestic sea travel to and from Metro Manila shall be suspended beginning 12 midnight on March 15, 2020 until April 14, 2020,” Duterte said.
To avoid using the term “lockdown,” the president referred to the move as “community quarantine.”
“We don’t want to use that term (lockdown) because it stokes fear. But it’s a lockdown. There’s no struggle of power here . . . it’s just an issue of protecting and defending you (the public) from COVID-19,” he said.
Metro Manila comprises 16 cities — Manila, Quezon City, Caloocan, Las Pinas, Makati, Malabon, Mandaluyong, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Paranaque, Pasay, Pasig, San Juan, Taguig, and Valenzuela, — and the municipality of Pateros. The region’s population is more than 12 million.
While mass gatherings will be prohibited during the period, public transport within Metro Manila will remain operational. Schools are suspended until April.
With a series of measures advised for the public and private sector, Duterte said they will be subject to daily monitoring and reassessment by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
“The crisis is very, very clear. Covid-19 is spreading all throughout the country,” the president said, as he urged members of the public not to panic and to practice social distancing.
Interior and local government secretary Eduardo Ano explained in a radio interview that while travel is being restricted in and out of Metro Manila, “it is not a total lockdown.”
“We are just restricting movement coming in and going out of Metro Manila because we want to prevent the spread of the virus,” he said, adding that those working in Metro Manila who live outside the capital region will be allowed entry.
Duterte himself was tested for the coronavirus on Thursday afternoon, as several members of his cabinet went on self-quarantine following exposure to infected individuals.
There are now 52 confirmed coronavirus cases in the Philippines. The Department of Health has raised the virus death toll to five.


Van Gogh painting stolen from Dutch museum during virus shutdown

Updated 30 March 2020

Van Gogh painting stolen from Dutch museum during virus shutdown

  • The 1884 painting, titled the ‘Parsonage Garden at Neunen in Spring,’ was taken during a pre-dawn break-in at the Singer Laren Museum near Amsterdam
  • The criminals smashed through a glass door and then took the painting, which is valued at up to €6 million

THE HAGUE: Thieves stole a painting by Dutch master Vincent van Gogh early Monday in a daring heist from a museum that was closed to the public because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The 1884 painting, titled the “Parsonage Garden at Neunen in Spring,” was taken during a pre-dawn break-in at the Singer Laren Museum near Amsterdam.
The criminals smashed through a glass door and then took the painting, which is valued at up to €6 million ($6.6 million).
“I am shocked and unbelievably annoyed this theft has happened,” Jan Rudolph de Lorm, one of the museum’s directors, told a press conference.
“Art is there to be seen, to be enjoyed, to inspire and to bring solace, particularly in these troubled times in which we find ourselves,” De Lorm said.
The theft happened on what would have been the 167th birthday of the brilliant yet troubled artist.
“Parsonage Garden at Neunen in Spring” comes from relatively early on in Van Gogh’s career, before the prolific artist embarked on his trademark post-impressionist paintings such as “Sunflowers” and his vivid self-portraits.
The painting was on loan from its owners, the Groninger Museum in the north of the Netherlands, as part of an exhibition.
The Singer Laren museum closed two weeks ago in compliance with Dutch government measures aimed at tackling the spread of COVID-19.
Dutch police said the criminals had broken in at around 3:15 am (0115 GMT).
“Police officers immediately rushed to the scene but the perpetrators had escaped,” Dutch police said in a statement, appealing for witnesses.
The painting has an estimated value of between one million and six million euros, Dutch art detective Arthur Brand said.
“The hunt is on,” said Brand, who is known for recovering stolen Nazi art including “Hitler’s Horses.”
It was the third time the famous Dutch master’s works have been targeted in the Netherlands since the 1990s, Brand said.
“To me this looks like the work of a copycat,” Brand told AFP, adding the modus operandi was similar to the other two cases.
“The thieves only went for a Van Gogh, while there are other works too in the museum,” he said.
Asked whether he thought there was enough security at the museum Brand said “it is very difficult to say.”
“Securing a painting is very difficult. It is something that has to be displayed for people to see,” he said.
The museum’s 3,000 pieces also include works by Dutch abstract master Piet Mondrian and Dutch-Indonesian painter Jan Toorop, as well as a casting of “The Thinker” by Auguste Rodin.
Singer Laren was targeted in 2007 when thieves stole a number of castings from its gardens including “The Thinker,” Dutch media reports said. The castings were recovered two days later.
Two Van Gogh masterpieces went back on display at Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum last year after they were stolen from the museum in 2002.
The paintings — the 1882 ” View of the Sea at Scheveningen” and the 1884/5 “Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church at Nuenen” — were recovered by Italian investigators in September 2016 when they raided a home belonging to an infamous mafia drug baron near Naples.
Previously three Van Goghs that were stolen from the Noordbrabants Museum in 1990 later resurfaced when a notorious Dutch criminal made a deal with prosecutors.