Metro Manila lockdown only effective if supplies of essential items are enough — VP

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 12) — Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday addressed the planned government strategies to contain COVID-19 in Metro Manila, saying communities must first have sufficient supplies if a lockdown is to be effective.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who addressed the nation in a separate speech after Robredo's video announcement, imposed a "community quarantine" and travel ban in Metro Manila from March 15 to April 4, which is subject to review daily.

"Ayaw naming gamitin ['yang term na lockdown]. But there is a lockdown [Translation: We don't want to use that term. But there is a lockdown]," the chief executive said. Palace spokesperson Salvador Panelo, however, later on clarified to CNN Philippines that the move is not tantamount to a lockdown.

The said travel restrictions, recommended by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease, were made in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease or COVID-19 in the country.

Robredo called on her fellow government officials to ensure that there are enough basic supplies, such as food and sanitary items, to help allay fears among citizens.

Isa itong paraan para hindi na dumagdag ang pangamba ng ating mga kababayan: Kung alam nating magiging sapat ang supplies sa ating mga komunidad, papanatag ang ating loob, at hindi na natin kakailanganing lumabas pa,” the vice-president said in a video announcement.

[Translation: This is one way to reduce the fears of our countrymen: If we know that we have enough supplies in our communities, we will feel assured and we wouldn’t feel the need to leave our homes.]

There has been a shortage of supplies—such as face masks, hand sanitizers, and even toilet paper—across the country, following a sharp increase in demands for the preventive products. More and more people also resort to panic-buying and stockpiling supplies as fears of COVID-19 gripped the world.

Robredo also stressed the need to extend financial assistance to poor communities and to “protect the vulnerable.”

Gaya ng lagi, ang mga mahihirap ang pinakaapektado sa mga ganitong pagkakataon. Siguraduhin natin na angkop ang pansin at pagpapahalagang maipapaabot sa kanila.”

[Translation: Like always, it’s the poor who are the most affected in times like these. Let’s ensure that they are given appropriate attention.]

Robredo also reiterated her call for for employers to implement a work-from-home arrangement amid growing threat of COVID-19, saying there’s no reason to expose employees to further health risks, especially since one infected person can compromise the health of many others.

More than 50 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the country, with two resulting in death, as of March 12.

Based on the World Health Organization, over 126,000 people have been infected worldwide. Of those, 68,000 have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University data.