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Asia Minute: Philippines Quarantines its Capital City

AP Photo/Aaron Favila
A Filipino army trooper helps his comrade wear a protective masks as they arrive to augment police at Valenzuela, metropolitan Manila, Philippines early Sunday March 15, 2020.

As countries around the world deal with the novel coronavirus, governments are taking different approaches. In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte has made a dramatic move involving the capital city.

The entire metropolitan area of Manila is now officially under a domestic quarantine.

For a month.

That went into effect yesterday following an order issued Thursday by President Rodrigo Duterte. It means that some 12 million residents will not be allowed outside the capital region until the middle of April.

Control will also be tight on the way into Manila — although specifics about enforcement remain unclear. The Straits Times of Singapore quotes a Brigadier-General as saying more than 20,000 police will be staffing checkpoints along the main roads and highways into Manila.

There’s now a focus on those who may be eligible for exemptions from the travel ban, which could include business owners. The South China Morning Post reports some government officials may also be granted waivers. 

Critics say the rules are being rushed into place with a lack of clarity.

International travelers can still go in and out of the city — as long as they don’t come from areas facing travel restrictions or which have localized transmission of the novel coronavirus.

Another exception to the quarantine, those Filipino workers who are returning to jobs in China will be allowed to travel — as long as they stay out of the hardest-hit area of Wuhan.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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