"Nobody will be left behind."
Banish all fears. Do not panic. Despite the continued spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus now present in almost all continents except Antarctica the experts insist it is not the end of days. Yes, the virus is unusually transmittable and lethal. And yes while the contagion is also controllable as evidenced by the experiences of China—the original COVID-19 epicenter—which has slowed down infection even in Hubei province and is now slowly but surely getting back to normal. The same has been observed in South Korea. I hope that this outbreak, like previous ones, will soon be controlled and cured.
Meantime, we have, as President Duterte said last Thursday, to brace ourselves for the worst. Which is why it is incumbent upon us to exercise self-discipline and cooperate in whatever way we can - at home, within our communities and on social media - in ensuring that nobody is left behind.
So, as we pray for those who have been infected and extend all support to the frontliners - in our hospitals, at the barangays, at the checkpoints, at the markets, service centers and others who are making sure that life goes on, we can do a lot by sharing only best practices and credible, science-based information on the disease. Not raw information, half truths or worse, fake news, which can only add to the toxicity which some quarters especially in social media have come to be enamored with.
It is in this respect that I have decided to share the 16 point summary of what the ‘community quarantine in Metro Manila’ order of President Duterte as advised by Presidential Legal Counsel and Spokesperson, Secretary Salvador Panelo. Here goes:
“Following discussions with health officials, as well as with members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), the Chief Executive has decided to approve the imposition of Stringent Social Distancing Measures in the National Capital Region (NCR) for thirty (30) days, effective March 15, 2020, with the salient directives discussed below.
First, the suspension of classes in all levels in Metro Manila is extended until April 12, 2020, with students remaining in their respective homes for the said duration.
Second, mass gatherings, defined as events where the number of people attending could strain the planning and response resources of the community hosting the event, shall be prohibited during the aforesaid period.
Third, community quarantine is imposed in the entire Metro Manila. Local Government Units (LGUs) in other areas are advised to determine and declare, as needed and as scientifically founded, similar quarantine in their respective communities in accordance with the Task Force guidelines. LGUs, which have imposed community quarantine in their respective jurisdiction/s, upon the declaration of a State of Calamity, shall be allowed to access their Quick Response Fund;
Fourth, work in the Executive Branch shall be suspended during the same period, without prejudice to the formation of skeletal work forces by government agencies. Law enforcement agencies, including the AFP and the PNP, as well as health and emergency front line services shall continue in full operation.
Fifth, flexible work arrangements shall likewise be encouraged in the private sector, in accordance with approved guidelines. All manufacturing, retail and service establishments shall remain in operation during the same period, provided that strict social distancing measures are observed.
Sixth, mass public transports, such as the Light Rail Transits, the Metro Rail Transits, and the Philippine National Railway shall continue in operation, following guidelines intended to ensure social distancing.
Seventh, land, domestic air, and domestic sea travel to and from Metro Manila shall be suspended until April 14, 2020.
In addition, LGUs outside of the National Capital Region are advised to exercise sound discretion in suspending classes in their respective localities.
The President likewise approved that Balik-Manggagawa Overseas Filipino Workers may be allowed to travel to mainland China, except to Hubei Province, upon their execution of a declaration signifying their knowledge and understanding of the risks involved in their travel. A health advisory pamphlet shall similarly be handed to them upon their departure.
Finally, entry travel restrictions shall be imposed upon those traveling from countries with localized COVID-19 transmissions, except for Filipino citizens including their foreign spouse and children, if any, holders of permanent resident visa, and holders of diplomatic visas issued by the Philippine Government.
To be clear, and to allay the fears and apprehension of the public, the government is essentially calling for a stricter implementation of preventive measures in order to slow down and put a halt to the further spread of COVID-19.
While the Duterte Administration remains resolute in combating this disease, the Palace asks affected entities and individuals for their cooperation in properly observing the foregoing adopted measures.”