Manila -- Filipinos woke up to an unusually quiet Sunday on March 15 as Metro Manila started its first day on “community quarantine,” the government’s lockdown of the capital as a precautionary move against Covid-19 or the coronavirus disease that has multiplied from six to 111 cases in one week, and six deaths.
For the first time, Metro Manila streets, which regularly see families going to Sunday mass, were deserted as Catholic churches canceled masses and people stayed home after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced in a nationally televised address two days earlier a sweeping lockdown and ordered a stop to domestic travel on sea, air and land to contain the disease.
Duterte’s lockdown order is from March 15 to April 14, 2020, a month-long stop in domestic travel as well as orders to stay home, for companies and offices to adopt the work-from-home policy, if applicable, observance of preventive health practices such as frequent hand washing, and “social distancing” or avoiding crowds, gatherings or being near each other. Government authorities said the measure will be reviewed on a daily basis and may be lifted earlier or extended further.
The lockdown took effect as news of the most recent death of an infected employee of the House of Representatives and the infection of 12 health workers of the Philippine Heart Center, a specialty hospital, were reported and Metro Manila residents received text advisories from the national telecommunications agency of the raised alert system of Code Red Level 2 nonstop on their mobile phones.
Critics and netizens questioned the lockdown as Metro Manila, whose majority of 12 million people are housed in populated neighborhoods, is a metropolis su