Authorities announced on Friday, July 31, that restrictions in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak will be extended in areas under the general community quarantine (GCQ) until August 15. Authorities announced the following areas are under GCQ: Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, Talisay City, Minglanilla, Consolacion, and Zamboanga City. The rest of the country will be under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ). Local authorities in Metro Manila will also be able to impose additional measures and restrictions including strict localized lockdowns in areas with an 80 percent increase in recorded cases of COVID-19. Face masks remain mandatory in public places and social distancing should be observed across the country.
On Wednesday, July 29, Philippines authorities announced that businesses located in areas under GCQ will be able to partially open certain businesses from Saturday, August 1, including, gyms, sports facilities, review centers, and internet cafes. These establishments will be permitted to open with a 30 percent capacity. Hair salons, personal services, and pet grooming parlors are also permitted to open, following strict health protocols and hygiene measures. Additional restrictions will be implemented in these businesses, including the wearing of face masks or coverings, social distancing, and frequent sanitation of rooms. Theaters will remain closed, however, drive-in cinemas will be permitted to open in GCQ areas. Authorities are planning to increase these operations to up to 50 percent capacity within three weeks, dependent on the COVID-19 situation in the country.
Areas under MGCQ will also be able to reopen businesses offering massage services, tattoos and body piercings, and language, driving, dance, acting, and voice lessons. Furthermore, libraries, archives, museums, cultural centers, and tourist destinations, will be permitted to reopen, and live events will be allowed to resume. Social distancing measures and hygiene protocols will need to be observed.
As of July 31, there have been 85,486 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines and 1962 associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected in the near term.
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). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhoea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
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 disease.
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