A Metro Manila Lockdown Would Be "Premature," Says DOH

Several lawmakers have proposed the idea amid rising COVID-19 cases.

(SPOT.ph) The Department of Health has stated that a total lockdown of Metro Manila amid rising cases of COVID-19 would be "premature." There are now a total of 10 confirmed cases as of writing, with several lawmakers calling for a "lockdown" of the National Capital Region. These "drastic measures" though, might be too early, based on the protocol set by the Department of Health (DOH).

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"The protocol, in fact, includes that it might be premature to do it at this point. So we will have to wait until evidence of sustained community transmission is presented," said DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III in a report by the Manila Bulletin. As of March 7, the country is under the Code Red sublevel 1 of the COVID-19 Alert System, which means that a local transmission was recorded. Before then, only foreign nationals were recorded to have been afflicted in Metro Manila. 

A Code Red sublevel 2 happens when the "sustained community transmission" which Duque was referring to occurs at a rate that the government can no longer respond to. "That will trigger the community lockdown or community quarantine as one of the interventions," he added, in a report by ABS-CBN News.

A state of public health emergency was declared on March 9 as declared by President Rodrigo Duterte. "All options should be on the table given that the National Capital Region (NCR) is the most densely populated area in the country," said House Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante Jr. in a report by CNN Philippines. Abante and Albay Representative Joey Salceda both pushed for the lockdown. 

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Meanwhile, Duque reiterated that "We need to respect the local chief executives' decision to suspend classes." Several cities have already suspended classes due to COVID-19 while work suspensions are being discussed by the DOH and the Department of Labor and Employment. 

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