Road to lockdown

WHAT a difference a quarter makes. The year began like any other, with business revving for profits and travel players looking to surpass the 1.5 billion international tourist arrivals logged in 2019.

But just three months onward, airlines have grounded much of their fleet, and 2.8 billion people, or a third of the world’s population, have been ordered or urged to stay home to keep a virus that has infected more than a million people in 211 countries and territories in check.

Here’s a timeline of the march of the novel coronavirus, and the disease it causes—2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease, later Covid-19—and the measures the Philippines has taken to slow its spread.

Dec. 31, 2019

The World Health Organization (WHO) China Country Office is informed of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause detected in Wuhan City in Hubei province of China.

Jan. 5, 2020

Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III says the Bureau of Quarantine will intensify health checks on incoming travelers through seaports and airports, amid reports of a viral pneumonia affecting 44 persons in China.

Jan. 20, 2020

The novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) infects 282 people in four countries: China (278 cases), Thailand (2), Japan (1) and Republic of Korea (1). Of the China cases, 258 are in Hubei.

Jan. 23, 2020

Two days before the Chinese New Year, China locks down Wuhan. Philippines authorities suspend direct flights between Wuhan and the Philippines. Some 500 tourists in Kalibo, Aklan who came from Wuhan are sent back to the Chinese city in charter flights over four days.

Jan. 28, 2020

The Philippines suspends the issuance of visas upon arrival to Chinese nationals.

Jan. 30, 2020

The DOH confirms the first case of the disease in the Philippines: a 38-year-old female from Wuhan, China who arrived in the country on Jan. 21, through the Mactan-Cebu International Airport.

Jan. 31, 2020

The WHO declares the novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD) health event a public health emergency of international concern. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte orders a travel ban on tourists coming from Hubei, China.

Feb. 1, 2020

A 44-year-old Chinese male resident of Wuhan dies in San Lazaro Hospital in Manila, the first death from the virus outside China. The second confirmed case in the Philippines is the husband of the first case.

Feb. 2, 2020

President Duterte expands the travel ban on tourists to include mainland China and its special administrative regions (SAR) Hongkong and Macau. It covers those directly coming from, or who within 14 days of arrival in the Philippines came from, China and SAR. Exempted are Filipino citizens and Permanent Resident Visa (PRV) holders, who are subject to 14-day quarantine on arrival in the Philippines. Filipinos are banned from traveling to China and its SAR.

Feb. 3, 2020

Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia bans the entry in Cebu of the persons banned under President Duterte’s Feb. 2 directive, subjecting those exempted from the ban to a 14-day quarantine in their home in Cebu or in a government-identified quarantine facility, effective Feb. 5. The order takes effect in all towns and cities of Cebu, except for the independent cities of Lapu-Lapu and Cebu.

Feb. 5, 2020

The DOH confirms the third case in the Philippines, a 60-year-old Chinese woman who had arrived in Cebu from Wuhan on Jan. 20, then gone to a hospital in Bohol on Jan. 22 with a fever. On recovering, she returned to China on Jan. 31.

Feb. 6, 2020

Governor Garcia prohibits cargo vessels coming from China and its SAR from docking in Cebu’s seaports unless crew members are first cleared of virus symptoms by a Quarantine Team, after which they may only unload cargo. Vessels with symptomatic crew are to serve a 14-day quarantine at anchorage. She also bars symptomatic people from boarding domestic passenger vessels.

Feb. 9, 2020

Thirty Filipinos repatriated from virus epicenter Wuhan, China are brought to the Athletes’ Village in New Clark City in Tarlac for the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Feb. 10, 2020

Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo clarifies that Taiwan is included in the travel ban imposed on travelers from China.

Feb. 14, 2020

After Taiwan seeks reconsideration and threatens countermeasures, the Philippines lifts the travel ban to and from Taiwan.

Feb. 25, 2020

The second batch of repatriates, 445 Filipinos—440 crew members and five tourists—from the coronavirus-stricken cruise ship mv Diamond Princess in Japan goes to New Clark City for quarantine.

Feb. 26, 2020

After South Korea records over 1,000 cases, the Philippines bans travel by Filipino tourists to South Korea. It also bars travelers from North Gyeongsang province of South Korea from entering the Philippines, except for Filipinos and their foreign spouses or children, permanent residents and diplomats.

Feb. 28, 2020

Governor Garcia orders 14-day quarantine for persons arriving in Cebu from North Gyeongsang Province.

March 3, 2020

The Philippines allows Filipinos to travel to South Korea again, except to North Gyeongsang Province.

March 5, 2020

The New South Wales government says a 60-year-old woman who arrived in Australia after spending over two weeks in the Philippines tested positive for the coronavirus disease or Covid-19.

March 6, 2020

After a one-month lull, the DOH reports two new Covid-19 cases involving for the first time, Filipinos, raising the number of cases in the country to five.

March 7, 2020

President Duterte places the country under a State of Public Health Emergency, signing the proclamation the next day. The DOH had raised Code Red sub-level 1. With no history of travel, the fifth and sixth cases, a couple, are considered cases of local transmission.

March 7, 2020

The third batch of repatriates, 163 Filipinos from Macau, arrives in Manila and gets home quarantine.

March 9, 2020

In less than 24 hours, the number of Covid-19 cases in the Philippines jumps from 10 to 24. The Philippine Stock Exchange drops 6.76 percent, the biggest single-day drop in 12 years. President Duterte suspends classes in the National Capital Region from March 10 to 14. The Department of Education (DepEd) suspends national and regional events.

March 11, 2020

The WHO declares the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic.

March 11, 2020

Covid-19 cases reach the Visayas and Mindanao. The country’s now 49 cases include one Filipino each in Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental and Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental. DepEd 7 Director Salustiano Jimenez says after taking final exams, Central Visayas students may return to school only for graduation rites.

March 11, 2020

Governor Garcia expands the 14-day quarantine to cover persons arriving in Cebu from Italy and Iran.

March 12, 2020

President Duterte places Metro Manila under community quarantine from March 15 to April 14, 2020 as the country raises the alert level for Covid-19 to Code Red sub-level 2. Land, domestic air and domestic sea travel to and from Metro Manila are suspended for 30 days. Class suspension in Metro Manila is extended until April 12. Mass gatherings are prohibited.

March 12, 2020

Returning overseas Filipino workers, Filipinos with permanent resident visas, and Filipino government officials are allowed to travel to mainland China, except Hubei. But the Philippines expands its ban on arrivals to passengers from all the 65 countries with local transmission of the virus.

March 13, 2020

Classes in all levels in public and private schools are suspended in Mandaue City from March 13, in Lapu-Lapu City from March 14 to 28, in Cebu City from March 16 to 28; in public schools in Talisay City after March 16; and from kindergarten to high school for the rest of Cebu Province from March 16.

March 14, 2020

Governor Garcia denies entry to all domestic passengers arriving in Cebu via air travel by March 17, closes all seaports to passenger travel by March 18, for 30 days. She also orders a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, and the closure of movie houses, pools, recreation centers, gyms and communal activity centers; cancels large gatherings, prohibits karaoke in public places, and orders social distancing in commercial establishments and religious gatherings.

March 15, 2020

Mayor Edgardo Labella declares a State of General Community Quarantine (GCQ) in Cebu City from March 16 to April 14, 2020, advising residents to leave home only for work, to buy food and necessary supplies, and to go to medical centers. Operating hours of malls, and recreational and community centers are limited to 8 p.m. Private establishments are ordered to use temperature scanners at entry points. Mass gatherings are cancelled or postponed. Suspension of classes is extended until April 14. Seaports are closed to passenger arrivals. Public transport operators are ordered to implement the one-seat-apart policy. An 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew is imposed. The city’s entry points get health checkpoints.

March 15, 2020

Following a Covid-19 death in Dumaguete City, Governor Garcia bans the entry of domestic sea passengers from Negros Island for 30 days. She also orders persons arriving in Cebu via air travel from any foreign country from March 20 placed under 14-day quarantine.

March 15, 2020

Lapu-Lapu City denies entry of all domestic passengers arriving in Cebu from Dumaguete City, arriving in the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) from Clark International Airport, Legazpi City and Cagayan de Oro City immediately; and arriving in the MCIA from all other domestic airports from March 17. From March 18, international passengers arriving at MCIA are required to undergo 14-day quarantine.

March 15, 2020

Lapu-Lapu City suspends karaoke sessions in public places and closes cockpits, bans liquor consumption in public, limits operations of Internet cafes and gambling places to 8 p.m., imposes a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, exempting personnel in essential facilities, night shift workers, and delivery personnel of basic needs, among others.

March 16, 2020

President Duterte declares a state of Enhanced Community Quarantine in Luzon from March 17 to April 12, 2020, suspending public transport, regulating food and health services, allowing people to leave home only to buy food and other necessities. He places the country under a state of calamity for six months.

March 16, 2020

The Department of Transportation bans back rides on motorcycles to enforce social distancing, and suspends the operation of motorcycles for public transport.

March 16, 2020

Cebu City imposes a liquor ban in all public places in the city until the GCQ is lifted.

March 17, 2020

For the GCQ in Cebu City, Mayor Labella orders social distancing for business process and knowledge process outsourcing operations and religious services, the closure of night markets, and the provision of delivery services by food establishments. He has students’ final grades computed without 4th Quarter Exams, directs medical establishments to provide protective equipment to personnel handling Covid-19 cases, and instructs barangays to conduct house-to-house monitoring of vulnerable and sick individuals.

March 17, 2020

The Archdiocese of Cebu suspends the holding of public Masses, processions, pilgrimages, conferences, recollections and fiesta celebrations from March 18.

March 18, 2020

Cebu logs its first Covid-19 case. Patient 188 in the country, a 65-year-old male, is confined at the Chong Hua Hospital Mandaue in Mandaue City, Cebu.

March 18, 2020

Cebu City suspends the operations of all enclosed recreation centers, fitness centers, gyms, movie houses, casinos, bars and clubs.

March 18, 2020

The Mactan-Cebu International Airport announces that due to travel restrictions imposed by the Cebu Provincial Government, domestic flights have been cancelled effective March 17, 2020.

March 19, 2020

Cebu City closes malls, except for tenants that are groceries, supermarkets, banks and money transfer firms, pharmacies and hardware stores. Also closed are spas, barber shops, hair salons, massage parlors, aesthetic centers; Internet cafes and gaming arcades; videoke or karaoke bars/rooms; sports centers, country clubs and golf courses.

March 20, 2020

Mandaue City closes malls and recreational centers too. Food establishments, pharmacies, hardware stores, banks and money remittance centers stay open.

March 20, 2020

Foreigners are banned from entering the Philippines from March 22, except for foreign spouses of Filipino citizens, and foreign government officials and international organization officials accredited by Manila. Filipinos are banned from going abroad for leisure.

March 20, 2020

The DOH says five sub-national laboratories, including the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu, are now testing for the virus, aside from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.

March 21, 2020

Governor Garcia orders social distancing in terminals, public transport and private vehicles, restaurants and other establishments. From 3 p.m. of March 22, 2020, a 24-hour curfew is imposed on pre-school to unemployed post-graduate students, and for persons aged 65 and above. From March 24, bars, internet cafes, gaming and gambling facilities, and aesthetic centers are to close. Businesses still open must use telecommuting and cut workforce reporting at work sites by half, except for essential businesses.

March 21, 2020

Lapu-Lapu City closes, from March 23, 2020, Internet cafes; barbershops, beauty parlors; spas and massage parlors; gyms; gambling places; malls and department stores; karaoke or videoke bars; night clubs and dental clinics. Exempted are food and health establishments, hardware stores, banks, money remittance and foreign currency shops, and government agencies operating in malls.

March 22, 2020

Cebu City orders senior citizens 65 years old and above and minors to stay home, with exemptions for authorized government officials, key and essential workers, and those seeking medical treatment.

March 23, 2020

Governor Garcia prohibits dining in fast food and pizza chains by March 25, and in all other restaurants and eateries by March 26. Only orders for home delivery or via drive-thru will be allowed. Hotels and resorts are barred from accepting group bookings of five or more persons. Island hopping and diving are prohibited, golf courses closed, and online classes suspended.

March 24, 2020

The “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act” empowers President Duterte to provide an emergency subsidy for two months to 18 million poor households; provide compensation to health workers who contract severe Covid-19 infection or die in the line of duty; direct the operation of private medical facilities including passenger vessels and other establishments, to house health workers, serve as quarantine centers, medical relief or aid distribution centers; and direct the grant of a grace period for the payment of loans and residential rent.

March 25, 2020

Amid nine presumed positive cases in Cebu, Governor Garcia places the province under a state of Enhanced Community Quarantine. From March 27, the entry of all persons arriving on international flights in Cebu is prohibited.

March 26, 2020

Mayor Labella places Cebu City under a State of Enhanced Community Quarantine from noon of March 28, 2020 to noon of April 28, 2020, mandating all persons (except those in exempt businesses) to stay home, closing businesses, limiting the operating hours of some exempt businesses until 8 p.m., suspending regular public transport, restricting land and sea travel; and restricting the entry or exit of persons in Cebu City to essential personnel. Hotels are barred from accepting new bookings.

March 26, 2020

Lapu-Lapu City declares a state of Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) from March 29 to April 14, 2020, similarly directing residents to stay home and restricting the entry and exit of persons in the city. Classes and public transport are suspended. Non-essential businesses are closed. The selling and drinking of liquor is banned. Seaports are closed to passenger arrivals, except for trips to and from Olango Island where only residents may enter the island.

March 28, 2020

Covid-19 cases in the Philippines exceed 1,000, hitting 1,075.

March 28, 2020

After Cebu City records 19 Covid-19 cases, Cebu Province closes its borders with Cebu City from March 30. Governor Garcia issues a similar stay-at-home order and suspension of public land transport. Establishments allowed to remain open are ordered to enforce social distancing measures, such as skeletal staffing, temperature checking, and use of masks and gloves; and provide transport for their own workers.

April 1, 2020

After Cebu City logs 20 cases and four deaths due to Covid-19 as of March 31, Cebu City requires all persons to wear face masks in public places.

April 2, 2020

Luzon residents are required to wear face masks when outside their homes.

April 3, 2020

The number of Covid-19 cases in the Philippines breaches 3,000. There are 3,018 cases and 136 deaths.

April 7, 2020

President Duterte extends the Enhanced Community Quarantine in Luzon to April 30.

April 7, 2020

Lapu-Lapu City extends its ECQ in the city for another two weeks, or until April 28, 2020.

April 9, 2020

Covid-19 cases in the Philippines breach 4,000. Of the 4,076 cases, 124 have recovered and 203 have died. Central Visayas has 36 cases, of which Cebu City has 23; Negros Oriental, 4; Lapu-Lapu City, 3; Cebu Province, 3; Mandaue City, 2; and Bohol, 1. (CTL)


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