Security forces arrested at least 20 protesters on Wednesday, April 1, in Barangay Pag-asa, Quezon City for violating lockdown measures in the Philippines amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Approximately 150 residents of Sitio San Roque reportedly gathered from 09:00 (local time) to demonstrate against the alleged lack of government aid they had received, including food and financial aid. Security forces dispersed the protesters and arrested multiple individuals. The local government claims there has been continuous distribution of food packs throughout the city; however, reports indicate that the local mayor has instructed personnel to review the list and make sure everyone has received the required aid.
President Rodrigo Duterte announced on April 1 in a public statement that the security forces have permission to shoot anyone found violating the restriction measures. He also stated that the abuse of medical workers will not be tolerated and will result in punishment and/or imprisonment. This comes after the medical community reported instances of hospital workers suffering physical abuse and discrimination.
As of Thursday, April 2, there have been 2311 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 96 associated fatalities in the Philippines. Further international spread of COVID-19 is likely in the near term, along with associated protests.
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 labored 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.
Individuals are advised to avoid all demonstrations and gatherings due to the risk of incidental violence, opportunistic crime and heavy-handed security force responses. Monitor local media for further developments on associated demonstrations and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.
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.
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 virus.