Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Enhanced community quarantine extended for Luzon Island, Philippines, through April 30 due to COVID-19. Other measures in place nationwide.

This alert affects Philippines

This alert began 07 Apr 2020 08:52 GMT and is scheduled to expire 30 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: International and domestic transport restrictions, heightened security, enhanced health screenings, business disruptions

Summary
Authorities have extended enhanced community quarantine in Luzon Island through April 30 to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Under the measure, residents should remain home and suspend on-site work, except for essential services such as the medical sector. Authorities have closed all schools, suspended mass transport, and prohibited large gatherings. Officials also require all people to wear face masks when in public. Inbound and outbound movement in Metro Manila remains restricted through April 14; however, exemptions are allowed for essential workers and those with proof of employment or business operations in the region. Authorities are imposing various curfews in some cities of Metro Manila, including Muntinlupa and Navotas, and have deployed additional security personnel to enforce movement controls.

The government is maintaining a Code Red Sublevel 2 alert, the highest level, as authorities have confirmed local transmission of the virus. Several areas in the country, including Davao City and Samar Province, have enacted enhanced community quarantine, though measures and time frames vary. Local governments continue to implement city- or province-specific restrictions. Some areas have announced compulsory quarantines, entry bans for visitors arriving from Metro Manila, or suspended flights at local airports. Further restrictions are possible nationwide in the coming weeks.

Travel Restrictions

The government has suspended all visas, including visas that the government has already issued, and visa-free privileges, effectively banning foreigners from entering the country. The restriction exempts foreign spouses and children of Filipino citizens and diplomatic staff and their dependents. The measure also does not affect visa holders who are already in the Philippines. The government continues to prevent Filipino citizens, except for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and uniformed personnel on official duty, from departing the country.

Background and Analysis
The measures correspond with similar actions taken by other regional governments in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
World Health Organisation (WHO): www.who.int