Philippines next to declare emergency, Brits urged to leave virus-troubled ASEAN countries

The Philippines is following Thailand with the declaration of a nationwide state of emergency as the coronavirus keeps spreading and infecting people in the country.

The Philippine Congress on March 24 approved a bill declaring a national emergency and authorising President Rodrigo Duterte to launch a massive aid programme for 18 million families. It is expected to come into force without delay.

Similar to Thailand, the president can reallocate the executive department’s budget under the legislation, which will also punish people disobeying quarantine orders and spreading “false information” about the outbreak, legislators said. The state of national emergency will last for three months but can be extended by Congress depending on developments.

The law further authorises the president to expedite and streamline the accreditation of testing kits and facilitate prompt testing of suspected cases. It also empowers him to temporarily direct the operations of privately-owned hospitals, medical and health facilities, as well as of public transportation to ferry health, emergency and frontline personnel and other persons when the public interest so requires.

Duterte has already locked down the main northern island of Luzon, home to more than 50 million people including Metro Manila, the capital region, by restricting travel to and from the region. Most residents have been ordered to stay home and work there instead of in the office and school classes have been suspended under the month-long containment, mirroring some of the measures also adopted by other countries in the world facing what the World Health Organisation has designated as a global pandemic.

As of March 23, Philippine health officials reported a total of 552 cases of the virus in the country, with 35 deaths. Twenty patients have recovered.

UK advises nationals to return as long as it is possible

Meanwhile, the UK embassy in Yangon advised all British nationals in Myanmar to leave the country if possible, due to the potential pressures on medical facilities from the coronavirus crisis and the risk that flights departing the country will be cancelled.

“The worldwide coronavirus outbreak is expected to put significant pressure on Myanmar’s medical facilities, and they may not be able to offer routine care,” the embassy said.

Similarly, the UK embassy in Malaysia “strongly recommend” that all British nationals visiting Malaysia should return to the UK now as long as commercial flights were still available.

“International travel is becoming increasingly difficult with many airlines suspending flights and land and sea borders closing,” the embassy said, adding that government repatriations would only be organised in “exceptional circumstances”.

“This advice is for UK travelers to Malaysia, not for UK nationals living in Malaysia, for whom our advice remains to stay put,” the embassy clarified.

However, the Brits would quite get from smoke into smother since the UK itself went into a three-week lockdown on March 24 amid spiking coronavirus cases and rapidly rising casualty numbers, while fears are growing that the National Healthcare Service might become overstretched with the sheer number of coronavirus cases.

UPDATE: On March 26, the UK embassy in Jakarta was the next to “strongly” advise British travelers in Indonesia to “immediately” weigh their options to return home as more airports had closed and more airlines had suspended flights.

The Philippines is following Thailand with the declaration of a nationwide state of emergency as the coronavirus keeps spreading and infecting people in the country. The Philippine Congress on March 24 approved a bill declaring a national emergency and authorising President Rodrigo Duterte to launch a massive aid programme for 18 million families. It is expected to come into force without delay. Similar to Thailand, the president can reallocate the executive department’s budget under the legislation, which will also punish people disobeying quarantine orders and spreading “false information” about the outbreak, legislators said. The state of national emergency will last...

The Philippines is following Thailand with the declaration of a nationwide state of emergency as the coronavirus keeps spreading and infecting people in the country.

The Philippine Congress on March 24 approved a bill declaring a national emergency and authorising President Rodrigo Duterte to launch a massive aid programme for 18 million families. It is expected to come into force without delay.

Similar to Thailand, the president can reallocate the executive department’s budget under the legislation, which will also punish people disobeying quarantine orders and spreading “false information” about the outbreak, legislators said. The state of national emergency will last for three months but can be extended by Congress depending on developments.

The law further authorises the president to expedite and streamline the accreditation of testing kits and facilitate prompt testing of suspected cases. It also empowers him to temporarily direct the operations of privately-owned hospitals, medical and health facilities, as well as of public transportation to ferry health, emergency and frontline personnel and other persons when the public interest so requires.

Duterte has already locked down the main northern island of Luzon, home to more than 50 million people including Metro Manila, the capital region, by restricting travel to and from the region. Most residents have been ordered to stay home and work there instead of in the office and school classes have been suspended under the month-long containment, mirroring some of the measures also adopted by other countries in the world facing what the World Health Organisation has designated as a global pandemic.

As of March 23, Philippine health officials reported a total of 552 cases of the virus in the country, with 35 deaths. Twenty patients have recovered.

UK advises nationals to return as long as it is possible

Meanwhile, the UK embassy in Yangon advised all British nationals in Myanmar to leave the country if possible, due to the potential pressures on medical facilities from the coronavirus crisis and the risk that flights departing the country will be cancelled.

“The worldwide coronavirus outbreak is expected to put significant pressure on Myanmar’s medical facilities, and they may not be able to offer routine care,” the embassy said.

Similarly, the UK embassy in Malaysia “strongly recommend” that all British nationals visiting Malaysia should return to the UK now as long as commercial flights were still available.

“International travel is becoming increasingly difficult with many airlines suspending flights and land and sea borders closing,” the embassy said, adding that government repatriations would only be organised in “exceptional circumstances”.

“This advice is for UK travelers to Malaysia, not for UK nationals living in Malaysia, for whom our advice remains to stay put,” the embassy clarified.

However, the Brits would quite get from smoke into smother since the UK itself went into a three-week lockdown on March 24 amid spiking coronavirus cases and rapidly rising casualty numbers, while fears are growing that the National Healthcare Service might become overstretched with the sheer number of coronavirus cases.

UPDATE: On March 26, the UK embassy in Jakarta was the next to “strongly” advise British travelers in Indonesia to “immediately” weigh their options to return home as more airports had closed and more airlines had suspended flights.

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