On Wednesday, April 22, the mayor of Cebu City (Cebu province), Edgar Labella, announced that the ongoing lockdown in the city would be extended until Friday, May 15, to combat the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The decision follows a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases in the city on Wednesday, when authorities announced 139 new confirmed cases over a 24-hour period, principally in the Cebu City jail and Zapatera neighborhood, bringing the municipality's total number of cases to 312. Under the extended lockdown, all non-essential businesses will remain closed, public transport will not be available, and residents who leave their homes to purchase supplies must have a pass.
Other measures remain in place throughout the Philippines. On Monday, April 6, authorities declared a lockdown in Rizal province involving stringent movement controls. Under the new rules, non-residents will no longer be able to enter the province, except for those exempted by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID). These include public and private healthcare workers, emergency personnel, government workers, diplomats, media figures, religious ministers, and workers in select economic sectors. The transport of food and other goods will continue into and out of the province. A 24-hour curfew has been imposed in the province, with only quarantine pass holders permitted to leave their residence to buy food and other essentials.
Additionally, on Tuesday, April 7, budget airline AirAsia announced the cancelation of all international and domestic flights until Thursday, April 30. Travelers with bookings made before Sunday, March 22, with departure dates before Sunday, May 31, will be able to choose from several options using the airline's online portal. Please see AirAsia's website for more details.
On Tuesday, April 7, authorities announced that the ongoing lockdown in the Philippines' main Luzon island will be extended until Thursday, April 30. President Rodrigo Duterte earlier imposed the "enhanced community quarantine" on the entire island on Monday, March 16, which was originally due to end on Monday, April 13. Under the lockdown, all individuals have been ordered to stay at home, and only one person per household will be allowed to leave and purchase necessities. The restrictions do not apply to employees from essential sectors. The government has advised those aged above 60 and individuals with pre-existing medical conditions not to leave their homes. Individuals who must leave their homes will need to bring along the identification documents as stipulated by authorities, to be presented at the checkpoints. Security forces have been deployed to ensure compliance with the lockdown measures, and authorities have ordered the police and military to open fire at individuals who do not abide by the controls. Supermarkets, public markets, convenience stores, clinics, hospitals, and pharmacies will continue to remain open, while restaurants will be limited to take out and deliveries. In addition, buses, jeepneys, trains, and all mass public transport have been suspended except for the transport of cargo. Many local government units have also announced overnight curfews, most commonly between 20:00 to 05:00 (local time).
The Philippines has been in a "state of public health emergency" since Monday, March 9, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a precautionary measure, all foreign nationals have been banned from entering the country since Sunday, March 22. Additionally, authorities have suspended domestic flights to and from Manila, as well as closed schools. All travel by land, sea, and air to and from Metro Manila has been suspended as of Sunday, March 15.
As of Thursday, April 23, there have been 6710 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines, including 446 associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the coming days and weeks.
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.
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.
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