Philippines: Duterte Imposes Stay-at-Home Order for Ages 10-14, Tells Children to Watch TV

In this photo provided by the Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte wears a protective mask as he meets members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases in Davao province, southern Philippines on Monday Sept. 21, 2020. Duterte says he has extended a state of …
Albert Alcain/Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division via AP

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte urged children to stay home and watch TV on Monday as he reimposed a stay-at-home order for Filipino youth aged 10 to 14 amid an outbreak of a new coronavirus strain in the country.

“Go back to your homes. And besides … those 10 years old to 14, and those older are the ones difficult to manage, but these aged 10, 11, 12, they’re good just with the TV [sic]. They can glue their attention to the TV the whole day,” Duterte said in a pre-recorded public address broadcast nationwide on January 25.

Duterte’s re-imposition of the stay-at-home order reversed a decision by the Philippine government announced just two days earlier on January 22 allowing people “aged 10 to 65 to go outside their homes in areas under the MGCQ,” the Manila Bulletin reported January 25. MGCQ stands for Modified General Community Quarantine. Several Philippine regions have been under various degrees of quarantine since last March as part of the government’s efforts to curb the spread of the Chinese coronavirus.

“My decision is a precaution because there is a strain discovered in the Cordillera [region] that is very similar to the strain from the United Kingdom. How it got there is beyond me,” Duterte said in his Monday address.

“I’m just afraid because this new strain strikes young children,” the president added.

Health authorities in the Philippine mountain region of Cordillera recently detected a new variant of coronavirus in the provincial capital, Bontoc. The British variant was first identified in the U.K. late last year and is believed to be up to 70 percent more contagious than previous strains of coronavirus found in the U.K.

The Philippine Department of Health (DOH) said on Monday it had identified eight Filipinos who recently returned to the Cordillera region from the U.K. and may have contributed to the area’s mutant coronavirus outbreak.

“The clustering of cases in … in Bontoc was reported to have begun with the returning Filipino from [the] United Kingdom who arrived in the town with his wife on December 14, through a private vehicle after testing negative for Covid-19 [Chinese coronavirus],” the Philippine Inquirer reported.

The DOH on January 22 confirmed 17 new cases of the U.K. variant in Cordillera, including infections in three children. There is no evidence at press time, however, that the new variant is specifically contagious among children.

The Philippines’ total coronavirus caseload is the second-highest in Southeast Asia after Indonesia. The nation has recorded 518,407 infections and 10,481 deaths from the virus as of Tuesday.

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