The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) has announced that all commercial flights to and from the Philippines were being suspended as of 08:00 (local time) on Sunday, May 3, due to concerns over returning nationals spreading the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and due to limited capacity in the country's quarantine facilities. The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) suspending all domestic and international commercial flights for one week. In April, local carriers Philippine Airlines Inc, Airasia and, Cebu Air already canceled all flights until Friday, May 15. Those international airlines still operating will have to request exemption to the suspension with the CAAP at least 36 hours prior to departure if they still wish to land in the Philippines during the suspension. Cargo flights and those providing other essential supplies and services will be exempt from the suspension.
On Thursday, April 23, President Rodrigo Duterte extended the current enhanced community quarantine measures in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, and other high-risk areas until at least Friday, May 15. Areas under the enhanced measures include: Pangasinan, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecijia, Pampanga, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Albay, and Catanduanes. Some areas will be re-evaluated on Thursday, April 30. The mayor of Cebu City (Cebu province) also announced on April 23 that the ongoing lockdown in the city would be extended until May 15.
Under the enhanced community quarantine measures, 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).
As a precautionary measure, all foreign nationals have been banned from entering the country since Sunday, March 22. Returning Filipino nationals are required to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
As of April 24, 7192 cases of COVID-19 and 477 associated fatalities have been confirmed in the country. Further international spread of the virus is expected over 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). 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.
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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