Manila: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday approved the imposition of lockdown measures in the capital region, in a bid to contain the spread of the Delta coronavirus variant and to shield the country's medical system.
The Manila capital region, an urban sprawl of 16 cities home to more than 13 million people, will be placed under the tightest quarantine curbs from August 6 to 20, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in a televised address. "While it is a painful decision, this is for the good of all." The lockdown will prevent people leaving their homes, except for essential shopping, while indoor and al fresco dining is banned.
The highly transmissible Delta variant, first detected in India, has spread rapidly across much of Southeast Asia.
The Philippines also extended a ban on travellers coming from 10 countries including India, Indonesia, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates to Aug. 15.
Already battling the second-worst coronavirus outbreak in Asia, the Philippines has so far recorded over 1.57 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 27,000 deaths.
The country has reported 216 cases of the Delta variant, but health experts say there could be more undetected cases because of the slow pace of the country's genome sequencing.
The second wave in the Philippine outbreak peaked in April and after mainly trending low infections have started to rise again in recent weeks. Currently hospital occupancy in the capital area is 49%, while the rate for intensive care beds is 58%.
President Duterte’s spokesperson announced on Friday that 16 cities and one town comprising Metro Manila will remain under general community quarantine (GCQ) with "heightened and additional" restrictions until August 5 — but will revert to the strictest enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) on August 6 to 20.
The announcement was made a day after the task force met with Metro Manila mayors. The local chief executives have been calling for the imposition of the strictest form of quarantine following a rise in COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant.
Cash aid, ramped up vaccinations
Officials said the national government has already approved the request of local chief executives in the NCR to distribute cash aid to the affected families during the two-week ECQ. It has also committed to ramp up vaccination to around 250,000 daily during this period.
Following are the changes under the latest IATF Resolution 130-A:
- Outdoor dining will not be allowed under the stricter GCQ starting July 31.
- Take-out and food deliveries are the only services allowed.
- From today (July 30, 2021), personal care services can operate up to 30% of venue or seating capacity.
- Indoor sports courts and venues; and indoor tourist attractions; and specialised markets of the Department of Tourism will not be allowed to operate.