MANILA — It is “too early” to consider placing Metro Manila on a lockdown, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday night, unless the country reaches sustained community transmission of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
Duterte made this remark after Albay Representative Joey Salceda suggested a one-week suspension of all work and classes in Metro Manila after new cases of Covid-19 were recorded in the cities of Quezon, Pasig, and Marikina.
“We have not reached that kind of contamination. Iisa-isa lang (One at a time). With this transmission, you want to close down the economy at this time?” he said in a press briefing in Malacañang after a meeting with members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
He warned that placing Metro Manila on a lockdown would make it difficult to transport basic goods and necessities such as rice and gasoline.
Currently, there are 24 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country.
He said the need to lockdown Metro Manila may arise once the number of confirmed cases would reach thousands.
“Maybe kung ‘yang lugar na pinuntahan ng mga Pilipino, magsabi ka ang namatay doon mag-abot na ng 20,000 o sa isang lugar may 5,000, sigurado, I will lock (Maybe if the places visited by Filipinos, you’d say the fatalities there reached 20,000 or in one area 5,000, for sure, I will order a lockdown),” he said.
However, the President was hoping there would be no further increase in the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases.
Meanwhile, he said that he is still satisfied with the government’s response in preventing the spread of Covid-19 in the country despite the confirmed cases reaching 24.
“Yeah. You cannot prevent it. ‘Yung (The) contamination, if it is passed from one person to another, you cannot prevent it,” he said.
He maintained that the government has “done everything in preparation” to contain the deadly disease.
“Nandiyan na lahat. Pulis are there. Health workers. Tayo naman dito (It’s all there. Police are there. Health workers. We are here too). We formulate the rules to follow. There are rules to follow here,” he said.
In a Laging Handa press briefing, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said placing a lockdown “might be premature” until there is evidence of sustained community transmission.
He said that the DOH respected local chief executives’ decision to suspend classes to minimize the transmission of the disease.
Salceda, chair of the House ways and means committee, said that a lockdown of NCR “should not be off the table if needed to slow down the transmission of Covid-19”.
He emphasized that the cost of mass community transmission “far outweigh” the economic losses arising from preemptive actions.
Moreover, he said there should also be a postponement of bus trips and domestic flights, and the closure of railways and expressways, such as the South Luzon Expressway and the North Luzon Expressway.
Duterte has issued a proclamation formally declaring a state of public health emergency throughout the Philippines after the health department reported the first known local transmission of Covid-19.
He also ordered the suspension of classes in all levels in Metro Manila to minimize students’ risk of contracting the disease.
DOH has also placed the country under Covid-19 Alert System to Code Red Sub-Level 1 to prepare for a possible increase in suspected and confirmed cases. (PNA)