DOH: 'Localized lockdown' possible amid coronavirus outbreak

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 10) — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Tuesday raised the possibility of declaring a localized lockdown on areas with significant number of coronavirus cases.

The health chief, during the House Committee on Appropriations' deliberation of DOH's budget to address the highly-contagious disease, was asked if the DOH may prevent traveling in and out of Metro Manila if the health situation worsens. He said that if there will be such declaration, the order will only cover selected areas.

"Based on our objective criteria, we will see a possible lockdown. Kung mayroon man, localized. Hindi po ito buong lugar," he said during the House hearing.

[Translation: Based on our objective criteria, we will see a possible lockdown. If we declare one, it will be localized, not the entire Metro Manila.]

He said that, for now, there is no need to impose any restrictions.

"A lockdown scenario possible if there’s proof of community-based transmission. Sa ngayon, wala pa 'yan," he said in an ambush interview.

[Translation: A lockdown scenario possible if there’s proof of community-based transmission. As of now, there is no proof of that.]

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año backed the remark of Duque that there is no need yet for a Metro Manila-wide lockdown, but he said security forces are prepared for localized lockdown if necessary.

"Prepared tayo kung magkakaroon ng lockdown. We have the PNP and AFP to help the LGU," he said in a separate interview. 

Cases in the Philippines more than doubled overnight, with a total of 24 cases — mostly in Metro Manila — recorded on Monday night. DOH raised the nationwide alert level on Saturday after cases of local coronavirus transmission were recorded in the country.

President Rodrigo Duterte rejected the proposed Metro Manila lockdown despite a rise in cases of novel coronavirus in the country. He said it's too early to heed the call of a lawmaker to impose such restriction.

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