Manila, Sep 29 (efe-epa).- Manila’s lockdown enforced due to COVID-19, the longest-running in the world, has been extended until Oct. 31, authorities said Tuesday.
This will take the Philippine capital of almost 14 million residents to seven-and-a-half months of confinement.
On Tuesday the Philippine government announced new phases for the month of October in the country, which is mostly at a more relaxed level, except for Manila, Batangas province and the cities of Bacolod, Iloilo, Tacloban and Iligan.
The province of Lanao del Sur, in the area known as Muslim Mindanao in the southern Philippines, will be placed on the strictest confinement level for 15 days to contain an outbreak of COVID-19 cases.
The capital was sealed off by land, sea and air on Mar. 15 and will remain that way at least until Oct. 31, a period in which travel to and from Manila is prohibited, except for emergencies.
On Monday the Philippines confirmed a cumulative total of 307,288 COVID-19 cases, the highest number in Southeast Asia, and 5,381 deaths. More than half of the infections (162,277) are concentrated in the capital, although the rate of the spread of the virus has decreased over September.
The first cases of COVID-19 arrived in the Philippines in late January, imported by Chinese tourists, but community transmissions were confirmed in early March and President Rodrigo Duterte, who initially downplayed the impact of the virus, declared a national emergency on Mar. 9, two days before the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a pandemic.
Manila, and almost the entire country, was under strict confinement for three consecutive months, during which the capital became a ghost town, without traffic and with all establishments closed; a situation to which it returned for 15 days in August to stop a new spike in infections that saturated hospitals.
Currently the capital is in an intermediate phase of quarantine, in which those under 21 and over 60 still cannot leave home, and most businesses are open at 30 to 50 percent of their capacity. In addition, the use of masks and face shields are mandatory in enclosed spaces. EFE-EPA