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The cities of Makati, San Juan, Manila and Pasay declared a state of calamity amid the rising number of cases of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Metro Manila.

In a live address on Facebook on Sunday, Makati Mayor Abby Binay said that there were 14 confirmed cases in the city, the highest in the metropolis. But the latest list by the Department of Health showed 16 cases.

San Juan, on the other hand, has 15 cases. Manila has eight while Pasay City has reported two.

Starting today, all malls in the cities of Makati, San Juan and Pasay would be closed. However, essential establishments inside their premises would be allowed to open, including grocery stores, pharmacies, 24/7 convenience stores, banks and health clinics.

Ayala Malls and Power Plant Mall announced on Sunday that they would close all of their malls in the metropolis until further notice. Only essential stores like supermarkets would remain open.

Most malls open

Most malls, however, remained open but under shorter operating hours despite an informal announcement from the government that they should be shut during the monthlong quarantine.

Binay, meanwhile, also signed Executive Order No. 10, implementing strict social distancing in the city to limit and control exposure to the virus.

Under the order, Makati was placed under general community quarantine, with the city government “strongly directing” people to restrict their movements and remain in their residences, especially “high-risk” groups.

Besides malls, also ordered shut were city-run facilities like schools, covered courts, multipurpose halls, barangay halls, as well as bars, theaters, schools, gyms, basketball courts, and similar establishments.

Restaurants and eateries would be allowed to operate but only for takeout and delivery services. Dine-ins were prohibited.

“All establishments that are allowed to remain open shall strictly enforce social distancing measures, such as but not limited to skeletal staffing, temperature checking, use of masks and gloves and other requirements that may be implemented by the Makati City government,” the order said.

San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora said that declaring a state of calamity would give them “the power to address the situation and access to the quick response fund.”

“If you already have access to the funds, you can already buy trucks of food and other supplies to address the [effects of] the disease,” he added.

The City of Las Piñas, which has two confirmed cases, was expected to make a similar announcement today.

Marikina to give subsidy
In Marikina City, Mayor Marcelino Teodoro said those who worked in malls would receive a subsidy from the local government.

The four malls in the city were already closed.

Marikina residents would also get a 15-day food subsidy. To qualify, they would need certificates of residency, displacement and employment.

In a statement on Sunday, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año suspended his order for road-clearing operations 2.0 and restricted all foreign travel by local officials so that they could focus on fighting the virus.

“Considering the ongoing measures being implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the 75-day road-clearing operations of local government units nationwide that began on Feb. 17 are suspended starting today (March 15) and shall resume upon the issuance of an advisory by the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government),” he said.

Año has placed on full-alert status the Philippine National Police in Metro Manila.

Meanwhile, a Manila policeman assigned to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) who was considered a person under investigation died due to respiratory failure on Saturday at a hospital in Pasay City.  

According to a relative, he was previously diagnosed with diabetes and began experiencing severe coughing three months ago.

The result of his COVID-19 test would be released on Tuesday.

As a precautionary measure, all CIDG personnel at the Manila Police District headquarters were placed under quarantine, according to the National Capital Region Police Office.

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