Month-long Manila closure begins, confining 13 million people

Manila, Mar 15 (efe-epa).- Thirteen million people have been confined since Saturday night in ??Manila’s metropolitan area, when a month-long ban on domestic movements began to prevent the spread of a novel coronavirus in the Philippines.

Police officers, some carrying weapons, established checkpoints from dawn on roads at the capital’s main access and exits, which Sunday witnessed unusually fluid traffic.

Authorities also carried out temperature controls on drivers and passengers to check for fever, ordering that they park vehicles to undergo further health inspections.

To facilitate the implementation of the capital’s closure, mayors of the 16 cities that comprise the ??Manila metropolitan area agreed to impose a curfew from 8 pm to 5 am, the application of which will begin Sunday or Monday pending approval.

The mayors also ordered the closure of all the shopping centers, bars, restaurants and shops in the capital, where today only supermarkets and pharmacies opened, which have experienced long queues in recent days in fear of shortages.

Mandatory temperature checks were enforced at supermarkets, urbanizations and condominiums.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced the order Thursday to close the capital through April 14, although he specified that international flights would continue to operate.

Duterte, who told the population not to panic, said the objective of the measures is to avoid having to make more drastic decisions in the future.

Local health authorities have confirmed 111 COVID-19 infections in the country and eight deaths, the vast majority in Manila.

Easter celebrations in the country, host to the world’s largest number of Catholics, were suspended along with masses, shows or concerts to avoid crowds, in addition to classes at all educational levels and work at government buildings.

Interior Minister Eduardo Año, asked the population to “stay at home” to prevent the Philippines from following in the footsteps of countries such as Italy, where more than 21,000 have been infected and more than 1,400 people have died.

There are some exceptions that allow people to attend work and the operation of ??buses, trains and public transport continues, although it requires that people keep at least one meter away from each other.

However, thousands of Filipinos took advantage of the two days between the announcement of the measure and the effective closure of the capital to leave the city, a flight that Duterte’s opposers have criticized. EFE-EPA


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