Wenny Zulianti

Wenny Zulianti

18
March

Metro Manila, a region of 12 million people, entered a month-long lockdown on Sunday as Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte considers a plan to impose a curfew on the area to try and contain the coronavirus outbreak.

Hours after Metropolitan Manila Development Authority General Manager Jose Arturo Garcia Jr. said Saturday that a 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew will be implemented from Sunday until April 14, Duterte spokesman Salvador Panelo said the president had yet to approve the measure. The city will go into lockdown during this period, with schools and government offices largely shut, as the number of local COVID-19 cases climbed this week.

“Local government units can impose curfew within their territories if an ordinance is passed imposing it,” Panelo said in a mobile-phone message. A recommendation by mayors to impose a curfew in Metro Manila “is subject to the approval of the president. The president has yet to consider it,” he said.

The total number of confirmed cases in the country has risen to 111 and eight people have died after contracting the virus. Officials said they are also limiting services at the state-run Philippine Heart Center after 13 personnel were exposed to an infected person. Duterte, who tested negative for the coronavirus, is shutting malls, and banning movie screenings and concerts as part of the measures.

About 20,000 police were deployed to checkpoints at borders, though vehicles were still allowed to pass, ABS-CBN News reported on Sunday. Other areas in the Philippines are also enforcing travel restrictions, including the provinces of Bohol and Oriental Mindoro, and Davao City and the municipality of Coron in Palawan, CNN Philippines reported.

Photos on social media showed crowds lining up in bus stations since Friday, while supermarkets in the capital were emptied of groceries as shoppers hoard goods amid the uncertainty.

Malls will be shut, while supermarkets, hardware stores, drug stores, banks and health clinics inside them will remain open, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said in a mobile-phone message on Saturday. A prohibition on mass gatherings comes into effect Sunday.

Other details of the measures:

- Religious activities may continue as long as a 1-meter distance is maintained between attendees.

- The movement of cargo won’t be affected.

- Workers, whether employed or self-employed, will be allowed to travel to and from Manila. They will need to show proof of employment or business at checkpoints.

- Passengers in taxis, ride-shares, shuttles, jeepneys and buses must sit more than one seat apart; motorcycle taxis will be suspended.

18
March

Malaysia went into a two-week partial lockdown on Wednesday after coronavirus infections in the country spiked to the highest in Southeast Asia, with some buyers rushing to supermarkets to stock up on essentials like instant noodles.

Malaysia and the Philippines, which has quarantined about half its 107 million population, have imposed the toughest restrictions on movements of people in Southeast Asia, causing early confusion and chaos, though capital markets in both countries will stay open.

Hours before the movement curbs kicked in at midnight in Malaysia, thousands of people queued up at bus stations to go back to their hometowns. Hordes of Malaysians who commute daily to Singapore for work crossed the border to spend the next two weeks there.

Roads in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, normally some of the most congested in Southeast Asia on weekdays, were largely clear on Wednesday morning. Some cafes and restaurants opened, but customers were allowed only takeaway food.

Big supermarket chains such as Mydin put in measures including special shopping slots and cashier lanes for the elderly and disabled and limited the purchases of staples such as rice, flour, cooking oil, hand sanitizers and disinfectants.

"People coming and rushing is still going to see the disease spread, said Ahmad Fauzi, 60, who had been up early to shop to avoid the crowds. "They should be more calm."

Malaysia reported its first two coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, including a man who attended a mass Muslim gathering linked to nearly two-thirds of the country's 673 infections.

Mydin Managing Director Ameer Ali Mydin told Reuters that supply was adequate at his chain of store but that "people must understand that they cannot be too selective".

The government of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who took office only this month, has assured there is enough stock of essentials for the country of 32 million people.

He has shut Malaysia's borders for travellers, restricted internal movement, closed schools and universities and ordered non-essential businesses to stay out.

Neighboring Thailand has announced the closure of schools, bars, movie theatres, cockfighting arenas and other entertainment centers.

16
March

Governor of Jakarta Anies Baswedan on Sunday said the provincial government has decided to limit food sales in retail stores to avoid panic buying amid the full-alert status of COVID-19 pandemic.

"The association of retailers today have imposed limits on food sales to control panic buying which could also disrupt market's stability. We have already had an agreement (with the association)," Baswedan said in the Jakarta City Hall.

The curb, he added, will be effective this week, while calling people to only visit retail/department store when it is necessary.

"Allhamdulilah (all praise be to Allah), Jakarta's food stocks are secured. According to Bulog (state logistic agency), we have at least 320,000 tons of rice stored in the warehouses. It could last for the next two months," Baswedan remarked.

Amid the surge in the number of COVID-19 cases over the past week, the Jakarta provincial government has suggested the Indonesian government to restrict in-an-out access to the country's capital city.

"We couldn't decide this restriction on our own, it must be consulted with the head of the national disaster mitigation agency (BNPB)," he added.

16
March

 Indonesian House Speaker Puan Maharani urged the government to optimize the COVID Quick Handling Task Force’s role in executing its integrated tasks to contain the coronavirus outbreak under the National Disaster Mitigation Agency’s (BNPB’s) coordination.

"The integrated tasks include raising awareness, conducting early detection, treating patients, handling impacts, and rehabilitating in accordance with the WHO protocol," she noted in a written statement released on Monday.

The task force must immediately announce the steps entailed in handling the COVID-19 outbreak transparently to the public, including concrete steps to avert the spread of COVID-19 that the WHO has declared as a pandemic on March 11, she emphasized.

The task force should also represent the government to proffer a sense of security among members of the public through several concrete steps entailing raising awareness, disseminating education, conducting mitigation and emergency response, and ensuring social restriction to address the COVID-19 outbreak, she remarked.

The government, through the BNPB, should also promote public and private participation in addressing the COVID-19 outbreak, she affirmed.

The House speaker also voiced support to any effort to declare COVID-19 as a non-natural national disaster.

"The declaration of status is a response to this incident through emergency response steps under coordination of the BNPB," she added.