Police in Philippines seal capital

Police in Philippines seal capital
© Getty

Thousands of police officers in the Philippines are reportedly sealing off the capital, Manila, in an attempt to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

The Philippine army and coast guard are supporting the police in cutting off Manila to domestic travelers as part of a monthlong restriction starting Sunday, The Associated Press reported, adding that the city, which has more than 12 million residents, also instituted a night curfew and an order for people to stay home unless they are heading to work or on urgent errands.

President Rodrigo Duterte called the effort a “general community quarantine” when it was announced on Thursday.

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Police monitored checkpoints on major entry and exit points of the city starting on Sunday. 

All domestic travel by land, air and sea is banned from the area, officials had announced. Public gatherings like concerts, movies and cockfighting were also banned. School closures were also extended by a month, according to the AP.

Officials clarified the restrictions didn’t apply to cargo and food shipments when members of the public crowded grocery stores and fled the city, afraid of being kept in the capital.  

“If you’ll go to work, go. If you need to go out for medical treatment, go. If you’ll buy food, go, but other than that, stay home,” Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano said Saturday, according to the AP. “We should practice social distancing.”

Ano pointed to Italy, where he said the appropriate containment efforts were not made, leading to a boost in cases and deaths. The Philippines has recorded 111 cases and eight deaths, while Italy has confirmed more than 21,000 cases and more than 1,400 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.