|President Rodrigo Roa Duterte confers with Health Secretary Francisco Duque III during a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Malacañan Palace on March 9, 2020.|
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Monday announced a five-day suspension of classes in Metro Manila from March 10, Tuesday to March 14, Saturday, as a response to the dangers posed by the spread of COVID-19.
The Interagency Task Force on COVID-19 briefed the President regarding the virus as well as the current response of the government to contain its spread.
“We have decided to — the clamor also of the mayors probably much worried than we here, so there is a consensus that — by the body that classes will be suspended in NCR, National Capital Region lang, beginning tomorrow and it will end in March 14,” President Duterte said in announcing the suspension during a press conference in Malacanang.
The goal is to ensure the safety of the children and to enable health authorities establish a benchmark on the number of cases of people getting the infection, according to the President.
“At ngayon kung itong walang klase, would it somehow reduce the number of the victims if we keep our children sequestered at home and study there.”
And to prevent the children from going to public places like malls and cinemas, the President said the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the police will serve as truant officers to supervise them.
Education officials insisted during the IATF briefing that the students must be prevented from loitering around for them to avoid catching the virus. There are around 2.9 million students in Metro Manila, the officials said.
“The virus is so virulent that you know even a contact, a mere talking, handshaking could, I said, place you in jeopardy. And we are trying to avoid losses especially lives and that is why we met this afternoon,” President Duterte said.
Asked if there’s a need to suspend work in government, the President said: “You know, government has to function. We need all, at least now, we need all”.
He also announced four new cases of COVID-19 infection during Monday’s press conference, bringing the total number of infected individuals to 24.
As to the government’s response to prevent the virus from spreading further, the President voiced optimism that COVID-19 could be contained as long as the public adheres to strict biosecurity protocols.
“We have done everything in preparation. Nandiyan na lahat. Police are there. Health workers. Tayo naman dito we formulate the rules to follow. There are rules to follow here,” he said, adding, however, that once people start breaking the rules, the problem is compounded for everybody.