MANILA – Public gatherings and large-scale events in Metro Manila will soon be regulated through “social distancing” measures due to the surge in the confirmed infections of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the country.
In an interview after the Metro Manila Council (MMC) meeting on Tuesday, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Eduardo Año said the MMC, composed mostly of Metro Manila mayors, unanimously agreed in imposing precautionary measures which would discourage, if not ban, certain social gatherings in the capital region.
“Iiwasan muna ang large gatherings para sigurado na ma-contain natin ang spread ng coronavirus. NCR mayors are in unison. In fact, sila mismo ang nag-recommend na buong NCR (We’ll avoid large gatherings to ensure that we contain the spread of Covid-19. NCR mayors are in unison. In fact, they recommended that the measure is imposed over the whole NCR),” Año said.
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) general manager Arturo “Jojo” Garcia said the MMC will form a technical working group that would formulate policies on social distancing which would be released within the week.
Año also called on the private sector, as well as the Civil Service Commission, to plan their own implementation of social distancing in the workplace to ensure the health and safety of workers in the NCR.
For public transportation or other scenarios where physical contact among people is almost unavoidable, he said precautionary measures must be made both on the part of the public and service providers.
“Ang kailangan talaga natin dito ay yung mga preventive measures—magdala sila ng masks. Tapos ang hand sanitizers ay in place dun sa mga entrance (What we really need are preventive measures—they should bring masks. And hand sanitizers should be placed in entrances),” Año said.
Metropolis not on lockdown
Meanwhile, he said while classes in all levels are suspended from March 10 to 14 in the entire Metro Manila, the region is yet to be placed on lockdown as the current situation only calls for measures appropriate for local transmission, not community transmission or Code Red (Sub-level 2).
“Yung tinatawag na confirmed na ang community transmission, doon tayo pwedeng mag-lockdown, mag-stop na ng school, mag-suspend ng work (What we call confirmed community transmission, that’s where we could impose a lockdown, suspend both school and work). But it would be depending on the area,” Año said.
If a lockdown becomes a necessity, he said local government units, with support from both the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, are ready to enforce a 14-day lockdown.
“14 days kasi yun yung incubation period ng virus. With that, matitigil mo yung activity, mapre-prevent mo yung pag-spread (It’s 14 days because that’s the incubation of the virus. With that, you’ll be able to stop the activity of the virus, its spread),” Año said.
By March 14, he said there will be another meeting of Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, led by the Department of Health (DOH), to assess whether to continue or lift the suspension of classes in Metro Manila.
Earlier, the DOH said the number of confirmed infections of Covid-19 in the country has reached 33 after nine more persons tested positive for the virus.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said symptoms of the Covid-19 include fever, tiredness, and dry cough while some may experience aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea.
WHO said the respiratory disease which originated in Wuhan City, China in 2019 has left 3,800 dead and affected 110,000 worldwide. (PNA)