90 Chinese, 2 Malaysians nabbed for violating lockdown guidelines

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A soldier guards an empty street following the lockdown imposed to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Manila, April 24. -- REUTERS

PHILIPPINE police arrested 90 Chinese and two Malaysians for allegedly violating health and safety guidelines on the coronavirus after law enforcers raided an illegal offshore gaming operator in Bacoor City in Cavite province on Friday.

Agents of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) raided an apartelle in the village of Mabolo 1 in the afternoon of May 29, according to police.

The operation stemmed from a tip that Chinese nationals had been seen loitering outside the apartelle, said Brigadier General Rhoderick Armamento, CIDG deputy director for administration.

The foreigners were allegedly not wearing face masks and did not observe physical distancing. Village officials thought the building was a quarantine facility, Mr. Armamento said.

“They should not be operating yet because of the quarantine,” he said by telephone.

Acting on the tip, agents of the CIDG’s Anti-Organized Crime Unit raided the building. “The workers failed to provide pertinent records such as passports and working permits that could prove the legality of their online gaming operation,” CIDG said in a report.

The agency is preparing charges against the suspects for violating a law on illegal gambling and another that requires one to report certain diseases to authorities.

The Department of Health (DoH) reported 590 new infections on Saturday, bringing the total to 17,224.

The death toll rose to 950 after eight more patients died, it said in a bulletin. Eighty-eight more patients have gotten well, bringing the total recoveries to 3,808, it added.

Of the new cases, 338 had been reported late, the agency said. It said 218 came from Metro Manila, and 111 from the other regions. Nine were returning overseas Filipinos.

The presidential palace urged the public to observe health guidelines against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as the lockdown in Metro Manila is eased to a general quarantine starting June 1.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte locked down Luzon island in mid-March, suspending work, classes and public transportation to contain the pandemic. People should stay home except to buy food and other basic goods, he said.

The President extended the so-called enhanced community quarantine twice for the island and thrice for the capital region where coronavirus infections are concentrated.

Metro Manila and key cities and regions were kept under a modified lockdown from May 16 to 30, while some businesses were allowed to reopen with a skeletal workforce.

More people are expected to go back to work, when most parts of the country are placed under a more relaxed lockdown.

“Let us take care of each other by wearing face masks/face shields, maintaining physical/social distancing, staying at home if/when need be and avoiding crowded places,” presidential spokesman Harry L. Roque said in a statement.

Mr. Roque said the government cannot fight the COVID-19 virus alone.

Based on an order issued by an inter-agency task force made up of Cabinet secretaries on Saturday, Metro Manila, Pangasinan, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), Central Visayas, and the cities of Zamboanga and Davao were placed under a general community quarantine.

Other areas will be under a modified general community quarantine, or the “transition to the new normal.”

Barbershops and salons will be allowed to reopen starting June 7 at 30% capacity. — Gillian M. Cortez and Emmanuel Tupas, Philippine Star