MANILA (UPDATE) - The Southwestern Tagalog Region or MIMAROPA is covered by the “enhanced community quarantine” implemented in Luzon to contain the rapidly spreading new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country, a Cabinet official said Tuesday.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, spokesperson for the government on COVID-19 issues, said the region, which groups the provinces of Occidental and Oriental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan, is included in the expanded quarantine.
“Marami pong nagtatanong kung kasama po ang MIMAROPA sa Enhanced Community Quarantine. Yes po, kasama po ang MIMAROPA Region,” he said in a press briefing.
The MIMAROPA region is isolated from mainland Luzon since it has no land border with another region.
Nograles made the clarification after President Rodrigo Duterte announced that the enhanced community quarantine would be implemented in mainland Luzon.
The province of Palawan welcomes the province's inclusion in the enhanced community quarantine, Palawan provincial legal officer TJ Matta said.
“We actually welcome the inclusion on so many levels. Number one, for public safety and public health, it’s better to be very cautious in handling this kind of a problem,” he said.
Puerto Princesa, the province's capital, has sought permission from the city council to declare a state of calamity in order to use emergency funds to battle the virus outbreak, according to city administrator Arnel Pedrosa.
The city will ask for exemption from the region-wide quarantine if it does not record any COVID-19 cases by March 30, its mayor Lucilo Bayron said.
The provincial government, for its part, said it will rely on the country's situation whether or not it will ask for exemption, according to Matta.
"Because even if wala dito sa atin at grabe naman sa labas, bakit magpapa-exempt? We have to be stricter in fact,” he said.
The entire Luzon is placed under quarantine starting Tuesday which meant strict home confinement in all households, suspended transportation lines, regulated provision for food and essential health services, and heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce isolation procedure.
Duterte earlier placed the entire country under a state of public health emergency to control the spread of COVID-19 following "sustained community transmission” of the disease.
--With reports from Diana Lat, ABS-CBN News