The blockade in the Philippines lasted until April 30

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte approved on Tuesday the extension of a blockade and strict quarantine measures for the island of Luzon until April 30 to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

On March 17, Duterte ordered strict quarantine measures for the entire island of Luzon, the largest and most populous island in the country with 57 million inhabitants, including the capital Manila, until April 12, reports efe news.

On Tuesday, the intergovernmental working group for COVID-19 formally recommended to the president to extend the blockade to reinforce measures to contain the infection curve, which was later approved by Duterte.

We are ready to extend the blockade until April 30, Duterte said in a televised speech Monday night.

Millions of poor families that subsist day by day are the ones that suffer the most due to the confinement in Luzon with all commercial activities paralyzed.

Various civil society groups have urged the government to ease the blockade and isolate only those areas that are the hot spots of COVID-10.

To mitigate the impact among the most vulnerable sectors of society, the government on Monday started monetary aid worth 8,000 pesos ($ 160) for 18 million families in a country where 16 percent of its population is below the Poverty line.

The Philippines has reported 3,660 cases of COVID-19 and 163 deaths.

Health authorities have confirmed that starting April 14, the Philippines could carry out massive tests to isolate positive cases, including asymptomatic ones, after the establishment of laboratories across the country and the arrival of thousands of test kits donated by China, South Korea and Singapore.