Coronavirus lockdown expanded to entire Luzon island

A soldier checks the temperature of a motorist at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Manila. (AFP)
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Updated 16 March 2020

Coronavirus lockdown expanded to entire Luzon island

  • Philippine president: Country ‘at war against vicious, invisible enemy’
  • Luzon residents will be allowed to leave their homes only to buy food, medicine and other things necessary for survival

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.


UK epidemic is slowing; antibody test could soon be ready, say scientific advisers

Updated 17 min 54 sec ago

UK epidemic is slowing; antibody test could soon be ready, say scientific advisers

  • Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, said there were signs that locking down the country a week ago had slowed the rate of transmission of the virus
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed stringent controls after projections showed a quarter of a million people could die

LONDON: The coronavirus epidemic in the United Kingdom is showing signs of slowing and antibody tests could be ready in days, Neil Ferguson, a professor of mathematical biology at Imperial College London, said on Monday.
“We think the epidemic is just about slowing in the UK right now,” Ferguson told BBC radio.
Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, also said there were signs that locking down the country a week ago had slowed the rate of transmission of the virus. He said Britain was not in a “fast acceleration” phase.
Official data on Monday showed 1,408 patients in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) had died so far and there were 22,141 positive cases.
Britain initially took a modest approach to containing the spread of the disease compared with European countries such as Italy.
But Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed stringent controls after projections showed a quarter of a million people could die. Johnson has since become the first leader of a major power to announce a positive test result for coronavirus.
Vallance said on Monday the restrictions — which have seen public transport use fall to less than a quarter of normal levels — were already having a “big effect” on the transmission of the virus.
This in turn would lead to fewer people being admitted to hospital, he said, and ultimately reduce the total fatality figure.
Hospital admissions had already stabilized at about 1,000 per day, he said.
“It’s quite important — it tells you that actually this is a bit more stable than it has been,” he said, adding that the country was tracking France rather than the worse-hit Italy and Spain.
He said it would take another 2 to 3 weeks to determine the extent of the slowdown in the spread of the virus because of the lag between the rate of transmission and that of hospital admissions.
Ferguson said a third or even 40% of people do not get any symptoms and thought perhaps 2% to 3% of Britain’s population had been infected.
But Ferguson cautioned that the data was not good enough to make firm extrapolations.
He said antibody tests were in the final stage of validation and could hopefully be ready in “days rather than weeks.”