Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced the lockdown of Manila, including a halt to domestic travel. The lockdown is in a bid to contain the deadly Wuhan virus.
Though the nation has detected a fraction of the cases like seen in China and Italy. Health department officials hope to stop the spread before it takes firm root in Manila.
During a nationally televised address, Duterte also announced a month of school closures. Furthermore a ban on mass gatherings and a prohibition on the entry of foreigners. Above all from places where the contagion is spreading.
“It’s a lockdown,” said Duterte.”It’s just a matter of protecting and defending you from the Wuhan virus. That’s about it.”
It was not immediately clear when all the measures would take effect but Duterte said the prohibition on domestic sea, air and land traffic in and out of Manila would start Sunday.
The Philippines’ tally of cases has risen from 24 to 52 since Monday and four of its five virus-related deaths were reported this week.
Cases globally now stand at more than 125,000 and 4,600 deaths, most of which have been in China, Channel News Asia reports.
Wuhan virus a controllable pandemic
Duterte’s heavy-handed move comes after the World Health Organization urged countries to take action, saying the outbreak is a “controllable pandemic”.
The president himself underwent screening for the Wuhan virus on Thursday. A precaution after coming into contact with government officials who were potentially exposed to the virus at recent public events.
The 74-year-old leader is in a vulnerable age group for the Wuhan virus, which poses a greater risk to older people.
Duterte also in his address touched on one of the most delicate and divisive features of his presidency. His policy pivot towards long-time foe China.
The president has set aside the two nations’ running standoff over Beijing’s extensive claims to the disputed South China Sea to court trade and investment from the rising power.
“Maybe there will be a time, if things deteriorate, that I have to call on China to help,” Duterte said.
“I hope it would not reach that point, but maybe we will need your help.”