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Philippines raises alert level, putting Manila under quarantine amid coronavirus spread

Christian Fernsby |
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire Metro Manila under community quarantine after raising the public health alert level to the highest Code Red Sub-Level 2, in a drastic bid to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

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The Philippines has 52 confirmed coronavirus cases as of yesterday, including five deaths.

"Community quarantine is hereby imposed in the entirety of metro Manila," Duterte said in a televised address to the nation Thursday night.

"It's a lockdown. It's a matter of protecting you from coronavirus. The crisis is very clear. The coronavirus is spreading throughout the country," he added.

After meeting for more than two hours at the presidential palace, Duterte said land, domestic air, and domestic sea travel to and from Metro Manila shall be suspended beginning March 15 until April 14.

Duterte also extended the suspension of classes in all levels in Metro Manila until April 12.

Duterte also ordered Filipinos to avoid mass gatherings, saying planned or spontaneous events are prohibited. "Stringent social distancing is very important," he added.

He said work in the executive branch of government would also be suspended but a skeletal workforce would be maintained to oversee the unimpeded delivery of basic services while health and emergency frontline services shall continue to be in full operation.

Duterte encouraged the private sector to have flexible work arrangements.

Mass public transport such as the Light Rail Transit, the Metro Rail Transit and the Philippine National Railways shall continue in operation during the period, he added.

Duterte also ordered the local government units outside of the capital "to abide by the guidelines in imposing localized community quarantine in their respective jurisdiction."

For provinces surrounding Metro Manila, local government units are allowed to implement localized community quarantine only when necessary.

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