MANILA: The Philippines on Monday expanded its “enhanced community quarantine” from the Metro Manila capital region to the whole of Luzon island until Easter, as the government tries to contain the spread of coronavirus.
“Pursuant to my powers as president under the constitution and RA 11332 (Republic Act to Prevent Epidemics), I’m placing the entire mainland of Luzon under quarantine until April 12, 2020, coinciding with the end of Holy Week,” President Rodrigo Duterte announced in a pre-recorded message on Monday night.
Luzon is the largest island in the country, with a population of more than 50 million. Residents will be allowed to leave their homes only to buy food, medicine and other things necessary for survival.
Duterte said the decision follows an increase in coronavirus cases in the country. The tally has reached 142, with 11 fatalities as of Monday evening.
While Metro Manila has been under quarantine since Sunday, coronavirus infections have been reported in other parts of Luzon.
“I can’t go into a guessing game. I have to act. If there’s already contagion (in other areas in Luzon) and there are cases that need to be tended to, then the government can move faster,” Duterte said.
“But let me make this clear: This isn’t martial law,” he added, as more uniformed personnel are expected to be seen on the streets to enforce quarantine procedures.
“We’re at war against a vicious and invisible enemy … In this extraordinary war, we’re all soldiers.”
With the enhanced community quarantine in effect over the entire Luzon island, all households are required to comply with strict home measures.
Mass gatherings are banned, public transportation and schools are suspended, and land, air and sea travel will be restricted.
Outbound passengers have 72 hours from the start of the quarantine to leave the Philippines from any international airport in Luzon.
Inbound international passengers in transit upon the start of the Luzon-wide quarantine will be allowed entry subject to applicable quarantine procedures.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri announced on Monday that he tested positive for coronavirus.
He said he is asymptomatic and has no fever or cough, does not feel weak and has no headache.
“This just goes to show how easily this virus is spread, therefore it’s best for everyone to stay home and stay clean,” he added.