MANILA, Philippines (Update 6:04 p.m.) — The Philippines recorded another large increase in the number of coronavirus cases Tuesday as the country extended the sweeping lockdown of its main island of Luzon.
The new coronavirus has so far infected 3,764 in the Philippines after the Department of Health reported 104 new infections. The latest figure is lower than the 414 cases registered on Monday.
Health chief Francisco Duque III said most of the country’s confirmed cases are in Luzon.
“More than half or more or less 80% [of the cases] were recorded in Metro Manila,” Duque said in a press briefing Tuesday.
Outside Luzon, the Davao region registered the highest number of COVID-19 cases at 79, followed by Central Visayas—where Cebu is located—with 39 infections.
The DOH also reported 14 additional fatalities, raising the national death toll to 177.
Meanwhile, 11 more COVID-19 patients recovered. The number of recoveries in the country now sits at 84.
Just a little over 20,092 individuals have been tested as of Monday, the National Task Force against COVID-19 said.
The national government extended the enhanced community quarantine of Luzon to further stem the spread of the new coronavirus until April 30. The lockdown was initially intended to expire on April 12.
“Such extension of the ECQ shall be without prejudice to the discretion of the president to relax that implementation of the ECQ in some local jurisdictions or the granting of exemptions in favor of certain sectors such as public health considerations and food security may warrant,” Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said in a press briefing Tuesday.
Under the lockdown, millions in Luzon were ordered to stay home, while businesses and schools were shuttered and mass transportations systems were suspended.
Other areas outside of Luzon also implemented their own lockdown policies.
The COVID-19 pandemic has killed nearly 70,000 people across the globe, while more than 1.3 million people have tested positive. Over 285,000, meanwhile, have recovered.
Photo shows members of the Philippine National Police deployed in Manila amid COVID-19 threat. The STAR/Edd Gumban
President Rodrigo Duterte on March 16, 2020 declares an enhanced community quarantine over all of mainland Luzon, an expansion of an earlier general community quarantine over the National Capital Region.
The entire National Capital Region—16 cities and a municipality—is under community quarantine from March 15 to April 14, which means the enforcement of social distancing measures like letting fewer people on public transportation, reduced store hours, and the possibiity of curfews.
According to a memorandum issued by the Palace on Saturday, March 14, the quarantine means that "movement of people shall be limited to accessing basic necessities and work; and uniformed personnel and quarantine officers shall be present at border points."
Travel restrictions in and out of the capital will also be implemented.
All circulars and orders of the Supreme Court related to COVID-19 will remain in effect until the end of the extended enhanced community quarantine.
SC spokesperson Brian Hosaka said the special session of the high court in Baguio City will also be canceled.
"We will be releasing the corresponding orders once they have been signed by the Chief Justice," Hosaka said.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles confirms that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) recommended the extension of the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.
Nograles, also IATF spokesperson, said the task force formally recommended to the Office of the President the extension of the implementation of the ECQ in Luzon until April 30.
Pasig City issues an executive order declaring biking as a means of transportation for people making essential travel during the enhanced community quarantine period in Luzon.
Key provisions of the order are: 1) bicycle shops can open, 2) provision of accessible pedestrian infrastructure and 3) repair, rehab and upgrade of bicycle infrastructure.
"City departments have been directed to evaluate areas of major pedestrian traffic and public transportation interchange to ensure that walking is a viable means of transportation in the City," Pasig Transport said.
President Duterte says officials already discussed the possibility of a two-week extension of the enhanced community quarantine of Luzon.
"We are inclined to extend the lockdown up to April 30. Tingnan natin…Mag double time kami," Duterte says in his late-night address.
Earlier today, COVID-19 National Task Force chief Carlito Galvez Jr. said the president may decide on the lockdown extension between April 12 and 14.
Valenzuela City stresses that discrimination against medical frontliners as well as confirmed and possible COVID-19 cases.
"With each story heralding the heroism of the doctors, nurses, medical technologists, laboratory technicians, and other medical frontliners, are sad stories of the same frontliners being denied access to public services, or being prohibited to enter their own villages, houses or condominium units. Some of them even sustain physical injuries," the city's public information office says.
"COVID-19 patients, PUIs, and PUMs suffer the same fate as the frontliners as they, too, are victims of face-to-face bashing, bullying, and hate speeches," it also says.
"As part of Valenzuela City’s measures to protect them, violators of the Anti-Discrimination Ordinance will be meted out a penalty amounting to P3,000 or will be imprisoned for 60 days or will both be fined and imprisoned at the discretion of the court," the city says, adding its anti-discrimination ordinance has been in force since 2019.
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