Gov’t threatens total lockdown as cases soar

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THE PAROLA GATE in the district of Tondo was closed in this April 14 photo after Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso lockeddown Village 20 after some residents violated the enhanced community quarantine imposed on Luzon by holding public boxing matches and Bingo games. — PHILSTAR/EDD GUMBAN

THE government on Thursday threatened to impose a total lockdown if people continue to violate protocols against the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.

“There is no decision yet on a total lockdown but that will be considered if COVID-19 cases don’t decrease,” presidential spokesman Harry L. Roque, Jr. told at a news briefing.

The Department of Health reported 207 new infections yesterday, bringing the total to 5,660.

Thirteen more patients died, raising the death toll to 362, it said in a bulletin. Eighty-two more patients have gotten well, bringing the total recoveries to 435, it added.

DoH spokeswoman Beverly Ho told a news briefing that out of the confirmed cases, 9% or 530 did not show symptoms, 75% or 4,237 were mild cases, 1% or 65 were severe and 31 were critical.

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While there was still no cure for the coronavirus disease 2019, off-label drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration could be used to treat patients, Marissa M. Alejandria of the Philippine Society for Microbiology said at the same briefing.

Deonne Gauiran, a hematologist at the Philippine General Hospital, said the use of convalescent plasma from the blood of COVID-19 survivors in helping other patients was still being studied.

Mr. Roque cited the people’s lack of discipline after reports of overcrowding in some public areas covered by the enhanced community quarantine, as well as traffic congestion on some major highways.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte locked down the entire Luzon island on March 17, suspending work, classes and public transportation to contain the pandemic. He later extended the lockdown by two more weeks until April 30.

People should stay at home and should go out only to buy food and other basic goods, maintain social distancing and follow curfews imposed by local governments, he said.

Police have arrested more than 111,000 people for violating lockdown rules.

Mr. Roque blamed public disregard of quarantine rules for the rising cases of infection.

The Philippines has the highest cases in Southeast Asia, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

The virus has sickened almost 2.1 million people and killed more than 135,000 people worldwide, according to the Worldometers website, citing various sources including data from the World Health Organization. — Gillian M. Cortez and Vann Marlo M. Villegas

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