Rodrigo Duterte orders virus lockdown of Manila

Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte orders virus lockdown of capital Manila over coronavirus

Duterte also approved a month of school closures, ban on mass gatherings and a prohibition on the entry of foreigners from places where the contagion is spreading. Reuters file photo

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced plans Thursday for a halt to all transport in and out of the capital Manila and a quarantine to contain the spread of the deadly new coronavirus.

In a nationally televised address, Duterte also approved a month of school closures, ban on mass gatherings and a prohibition on the entry of foreigners from places where the contagion is spreading.

It was not immediately clear when all the measures would take effect but Duterte said the temporary block on land, sea and air traffic into and out of the capital would start Sunday.

"It's a lockdown," Duterte said.

The Philippines has a relatively small number of confirmed cases compared to hotspots such as China and Italy, but its tally has risen from 24 to 52 since Monday.

It has recorded five deaths, one of which was a Chinese tourist from Wuhan, the disease's epicentre.

However, Duterte has faced pressure from authorities and the public to squelch the virus in a nation with a fragile health system where millions of the poor live in densely populated and unsanitary slums.

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