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Total Metro Manila lockdown needed

With the number of positive cases of COVID-19 increasing on a daily basis, Senator Win Gatchalian calls for a total lockdown in Metro Manila.


MANILA, Philippines – The urban sprawl of Metro Manila, a metropolis with a daytime population of 15 million, as seen in this 9 March 2012 file. With the number of positive cases of COVID-19 increasing on a daily basis, Senator Win Gatchalian calls for a total lockdown in Metro Manila. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

In calling for a total Metro Manila lockdown, Gatchalian says people should strictly observe staying indoors. He says all areas of convergence should be strictly shut, such as parks, malls, churches and other places of gatherings. He adds all public and private vehicles should strictly be barred in and out of Metro Manila to contain the virus.

The lawmaker says the government should see to it that private companies and other private organizations should implement a work-from-home scheme. He pointed out that a community quarantine is an ineffective way to contain the virus because Filipinos, who need to physically be in their offices have no option, but to brave their way to crowded passenger terminals, defeating the purpose of the government’s call for social distancing.

Gatchalian urged the government for the stricter implementation of the Telecommuting Act not only to allow employees to work from home, but also to ensure employees working remotely are entitled to overtime pay, leaves, and other benefits. The senator stressed out that workers who are forced not to report for work due to the lockdown should be paid since the emergency situation calls for it.

“Sa kabila ng umiiral na community quarantine, nakita natin kanina ang mga manggagawa na pila-pila sa mga iba’t ibang terminal ng pampublikong sasakyan. Gusto natin ang mga tao na mag-practice ng social distancing pero pagdating sa mga terminal ng bus, UV express, at maging sa MRT ay siksikan pa din ang mga tao,” Gatchalian pointed out.

The community quarantine does not prevent infected people without symptoms from getting outside Metro Manila borders, making it possible for asymptomatic transmission to happen, according to Gatchalian.

If Metro Manila borders will not be completely sealed off, Gatchalian warned that we may be overwhelmed by the rising number of COVID-19 cases. The Department of Health reported that the number of COVID-19 cases in the country jumped to 140, including a 13-year-old patient, while the death toll rose to 12.

Gatchalian took note of the speed of the increase in the number of confirmed cases from March 8 to 15, with a daily growth of 277% on the average. 86% of these confirmed cases are from the same period.

“This is the situation that we fear. Iran has nearly 14,000 confirmed cases with 724 deaths while the number of cases in Italy has already ballooned to 24,747 and 368 of them died. If we don’t do any drastic measure to avoid people-to-people contact, we are heading that way,” he said.

“Again, the situation calls for more drastic actions to prevent COVID-19 from spreading outside Metro Manila and anywhere in the country. Everyone’s cooperation is needed in the fight against this dreaded virus. If this means that the government must implement more stringent measures to protect the safety and welfare of everyone, then this is the bitter pill we need to swallow,” Gatchalian said.