The President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, approved this Tuesday to extend until April 30 the strict quarantine and the closure of the entire island of Luzon, where Manila is located, to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The president ordered quarantine on the largest island in the country – where some 57 million people live, more than half of the Philippine population – on March 17, after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the pandemic, valid until April 12, just after Easter.
The intergovernmental working group against COVID-19 today formally recommended to the Philippine president the extension of the quarantine to consolidate efforts aimed at containing the contagion curve, a decision approved by Duterte.
“I am inclined to extend the quarantine until April 30,” the president said last night in a televised speech.
Millions of poor families who subsist day by day as they can are suffering with more virulence the closure of Luzon, with all economic activity paralyzed. That is why several civil groups have asked the Government to relax the quarantine and isolate only the neighborhoods with COVID-19 outbreaks.
To minimize this impact among the most disadvantaged, the Government began on Monday the distribution of cash aid of 8,000 pesos ($ 160) to 18 million families in the country, where 16% of the population lives below the poverty line.
The Philippines has confirmed 3,660 cases of contagion and 163 deaths among those affected by the new coronavirus, figures that rise every day as the country increases its capacity to carry out diagnostic tests.
Health authorities have confirmed that starting April 14, the Philippines will be able to carry out massive tests to isolate positive cases, including asymptomatic cases, thanks to the establishment of laboratories throughout the country and the arrival of thousands of diagnostic tests donated by China, South Korea and Singapore.