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17 Mar 2020 | 05:41 AM UTC

Philippines: Additional restrictions implemented on Luzon Island March 16 /update 11

Government implements additional restrictions on Luzon Island on March 16, PAL Airlines cancels all domestic flights as of March 17 due to COVID-19; follow authority directives

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Event

Government announced on Monday, March 16, that individuals on Luzon Island will be immediately placed under "enhanced community quarantine" until Monday, April 13, amid the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). People will therefore only be able to leave their home for essential duties such as food and medical supplies. Effective on Wednesday, March 18, public transportation will be suspended while land, air, and sea travel will be restricted and accessible to those transporting medical supplies or for humanitarian assistance. All establishments will be closed except shops offering essential services like groceries, banks and pharmacies.

As of Tuesday, March 17, Philippines Airlines canceled all its domestic flights until Sunday, April 12. Operations are expected to resume on Monday, April 13. International flights will continue to operate up to Thursday, March 19, when the company will announce the status of their international flights from March 19, through April 12.  

On Saturday, March 14, the mayors of Manilla's 16 cities (National Regional Capital) announced they would implement nighttime curfews until Sunday, April 12. The mayors will also issue the temporary closure of malls and establishments, with the exemption of shops offering essential services like groceries, banks and pharmacies.

On Thursday, March 12, President Rodrigo Duterte announced the suspension of all travel by land, sea, and air to and from Metro Manila until at least Tuesday, April 14. Additionally, all public gatherings have been banned and the suspension of classes has been extended until April 12. Train services in the capital will remain operational throughout the lockdown period.

As of March 17, health authorities have 142 confirmed cases, 12 deaths, and five recoveries. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

Potentially impacted travelers are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.