MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - The province of Ilocos Norte, which has yet to record a case of COVID-19, has been placed under community quarantine to prevent the virus spread, its governor said Sunday.
"Ilocos Norte remains COVID-free but in all likelihood, COVID is already here in our province. To be clear we do not have any confirmed cases but I believe we have to act as if we do have a confirmed COVID case here in Ilocos Norte," Governor Matthew Marcos Manotoc said in a Facebook video.
Under Manotoc's executive order 60-20 dated Saturday, local governments shall abide by the directions of the Departments of Health and Interior and Local Government in imposing "general community quarantine in their respective territorial jurisdictions."
"We have instructed the PNP (Philippine National Police) together with health personnel, to set up COVID-19 checkpoints to monitor individuals coming into the province in Badoc, Nueva Era and Pagudpud," Manotoc said.
"We will deny entry to all individuals entering Ilocos Norte with symptoms of COVID-19 unless they are residents of the province."
Officials will start collecting health information forms and will be "aggressive in recording vital information of all entrants to Ilocos Norte," Manotoc said.
Travelers from areas with COVID-19 cases are urged to undergo a 14-day quarantine, while residents of the province are encouraged to stay home, he added.
Those who need to travel must practice social distancing or keep a distance of 1 meter from others, according to the governor.
Classes in the province remain "indefinitely suspended," while government offices businesses, organizations and non-essential entities are “instructed to stop operations or advise their personnel to remain and work from home.”
“Salaries and other employee benefits shall not be decreased when working from home,” the EO read.
The EO also prohibits hoarding, reselling, price spikes, public consumption of alcoholic beverages, and sharing misinformation.
Aside from the province, Cotabato City, another area free of the virus, will also be placed on quarantine beginning Monday.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier placed Metro Manila under a month-long community quarantine as COVID-19 cases in the capital region continue to rise.
Other areas with at least 2 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in different localities are also advised to be placed on quarantine to avoid spreading the disease to other parts of the country.
The Philippines is currently under a state of public health emergency, with state agencies enforcing stricter measures to contain the disease that has so far infected 111 individuals, of whom 8 died.
Globally, nearly 6,000 COVID-19 patients have died, while almost 150,000 others tested positive.