Duterte told to extend lockdown as cases reach more than 2,300

Font Size

Rickshaws block a street from outsiders to protect a neighborhood from the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Manila, March 24. -- REUTERS

By Genshen L. Espedido

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte should extend the month-long lockdown of the entire Luzon island by another month to contain coronavirus disease 2019 that has infected more than 2,300 people, a congressman said on Wednesday.

“Science, the experience of other countries and common sense would dictate that the Philippine government should extend the enhanced community quarantine for another 30 days,” Caloocan Rep. Edgar R. Erice said in a statement.

The lawmaker, who is vice chairman of the House committee on Metro Manila development, said the gains of the 30-day lockdown would be wasted if the President lets it expire on April 13.

“I have been to more than a hundred villages in my city in the past two weeks and I am afraid that if COVID-19 reaches these areas, all hell will break loose,” Mr Erice said.

He said the government should mobilize all resources to ensure enough food for the poor and lower middle class.

Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III earlier said it was still too early to say whether the lockdown should be extended.

The Department of Health (DoH) yesterday reported 227 new cases, bringing the total to 2,311.

Eight more patients aged 65 to 84 died, raising the death toll to 96, it said in a bulletin. One more patient recovered, bringing the total of those who have gotten well to 50, it added.

Meanwhile, the government seeks to open large quarantine facilities in 10 days, Carlito G. Galvez, Jr., chief enforcer of the country’s anti-COVID-19 measures, told radio DZBB.

He said that the Department of Interior and Local Government has ordered cities to convert their gymnasiums, convention centers and sports arenas into quarantine facilities.

“Our target is within 10 days,” Mr. Galvez said in Filipino.“Local governments must act now. Time is off the essence.”

He said the Rizal Memorial Coliseum in Manila and the World Trade Center in Pasay City will be the first to be turned into quarantine areas. These can house 200 to 700 patients combined, he added.

The government is also preparing the Philippine International Convention Center and Cultural Center of the Philippines in Pasay, PhilSports Arena in Pasig City and Philippine Arena in Bulacan to house COVID-19 patients.

The Department of Public Works and Highways is coordinating with regional directors to prepare quarantine facilities in areas outside Metro Manila, Mr. Galvez said. — with Vann Marlo M. Villegas