Lawmaker suggests Metro Manila lockdown as coronavirus spreads

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 9) — A lawmaker on Monday suggested to put Metro Manila on lockdown after the rise in confirmed coronavirus disease cases.

House Ways and Means Committee chairman Jose Ma. Salceda said closing off Metro Manila for at least a week will minimize the risk of mass transmission of the virus.

“Yung 10 cases sa Metro Manila eh. So kung may mangyari [magkaroon ng case] outside Manila, galing yun sa Metro Manila. Napaka-simple lang naman niyan. Sara mo SLEX, NLEX, yung railways, no domestic flights, no bus trips,” said the Albay 2nd district congressman.

[Translation: The 10 cases are in Metro Manila. So if there would be a case outside Manila, it could have originated from Metro Manila. The solution is just easy, you just close SLEX, NLEX, the railways, no domestic flights, and no bus trips.]

The Health department later on Monday reported that the number of COVID-19 cases have risen to 20.

Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante Jr., who represents Manila’s sixth district, said the government should consider implementing “drastic measures” to avoid further spread of the virus.

"At this point, all options should be on the table given that the National Capital Region is the most densely populated area in the country," said Abante in a statement.

President Rodrigo Duterte has proclaimed a state of public health emergency. This allows authorities to enforce mandatory quarantine of travelers.

Salceda said an outbreak will be costly to the economy.

“You may also declare work stoppage in Metro Manila. Kasi nandoon ang congregation ng mass transmission,” he said. “Mas mahal sa ekonomiya kung magkaroon tayo nito.”

[Translation: You may also declare work stoppage in Metro Manila. Because the congregation of mass transmission is there, he said. It will be costly to the economy if we have this virus.]

Although Abante said the economy should not be put at risk.

"It also says that outbreaks of disease are more frequent and more severe when the population density is high, which happens to be the case in Metro Manila, particularly my district,” said Abante.

He added, "Whatever precautions we take, while guarding the health of the public, should not result in the paralysis of the country."

Meanwhile, Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said a lockdown is not needed for now.

"Ngayon nasa sub-level 1 tayo, wala pa tayo sa estado na kailangan natin mag-lockdown," said Vergeire.

[Translation: We are still at sub-level 1. We are not yet at the state where we need to implement a lockdown.]

"Kapag nagpunta tayo sa sub-level 2 ng Code Red, dito po ay meron na tayong sustained community transmission. Ayun na po yung trigger para gumamit ng strategic interventions like lockdown."

[Translaiton: If we reached the sub-level 2 of Code Red, it means that we already have sustaine community transmission. That's the trigger to use strategic interventions like lockdown.]

CNN Philippines' correspondent Xianne Arcangel and Multi-Platform News Writer Vince Ferreras contributed to this report.