Officials check the temperatures of the students at a school in Manila. File
Manolo B. Jara, Correspondent
Health Secretary Francisco Duque on Wednesday opposed the plan allowing minors to leave their homes and visit shopping malls, warning this could lead to a spike in the number of infections especially during the holiday season from the coronavirus pandemic.
Duque pointed out that about three to five per cent of the total COVID-19 cases in the country are children and, as such, he warned: "They are not exempted from infections. As much as possible, we are discouraging that because there still that risk."
Duque was reacting to the statement of Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano that minors may soon be allowed to leave their homes and visit shopping malls as long as they are accompanied by their parents or guardians.
But Ano, a retired military general, said local government units have yet to pass resolutions or ordinances providing for the age brackets in minors allowed to visit the malls since lockdowns were imposed to prevent the spread of the virus.
On the other hand, Duque noted that although they may not show symptoms (or asymptomatic), children could still become a major contributory factor in the spread of the pandemic.
"When they talk or hug their parents, grandmothers, grandfathers, uncles and other relatives they could transmit the virus and we could have a high transmission rate," said the embattled Duque, the object of ouster moves particularly by lawmakers, citing his alleged failure to contain the virus.
Joining Duque in opposing the plan was Brigadier General Vicente Danao, the new chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Metro Manila regional command, who described the move as "premature."
"We are still under general community quarantine (GCQ) where minors are barred from shopping malls. But the authorities have decided to allow them as long as they will be accompanied by responsible adults; Take note — responsible adults," said Danao.
As the new police regional command chief, Danao has jurisdiction over the 16 cities and one town that compose Metro Manila, officially called the National Capital Region, with a total population of more than 12 million.
In his nationwide televised address late on Monday night, President Duterte imposed GCQ in Metro Manila and other areas like Davao City, his hometown in Mindanao, until the end of the year, which bans minors and senior citizens from leaving their homes with certain exemptions, however.
The guidebook, which is available on the DHA website, aims to provide parents with accurate, updated and reliable information on the best ways to keep themselves, families and communities safe. Dr Hend Al Awadhi stressed on parents, the importance of adhering to all health instructions issued by schools and detailed in the guidebook.
Education Undersecretary Jesus Mateo reported that of the total, 88 schools were located in Central Luzon followed by Calabarzon, 67; Metro Manila, 54; Western Visayas, 48; Zamboanga Peninsula in Mindanao, 23; and the Ilocos Region in Northern Luzon, 21.
Students of New South Wales (NSW), the most populous state, and the northern state of Queensland began going back to school on a limited basis to lessen the risk of spreading the illness, state leaders said.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said on Monday that metropolitan Manila, the capital region of more than 12 million people, and five densely populated provinces will revert to stricter quarantine restrictions for two weeks starting from Tuesday.
The firefighting teams started evacuating the ship and putting out the fire, the source added, noting that the accident did not result in any casualties or deaths.
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