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By Sofia Tomacruz in Manila

President Rodrigo Duterte has rejected calls to place Metro Manila on lockdown after health officials recorded a spike in Covid-19 novel coronavirus cases.

In a late night press conference yesterday, Duterte said it was still “too early” to implement the sweeping restrictions that would limit people’s movements.

“We have not reached that kind of contamination,” Duterte said.

READ MORE: Threat of coronavirus pandemic now ‘very real’ – WHO

Duterte stressed the need to strike a “balance” in response measures to combat the coronavirus crisis as this could affect the transport of and access to necessities like rice and oil.

Duterte earlier declared a state of public health emergency due to concerns over the virus, which has infected at least 24 people in the Philippines.

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Calls for a lockdown covering the National Capital Region echo China’s and Italy’s unprecedented decision to shutdown large parts of their territory in an effort to quell the spread of the virus.

China and Italy are among the countries with the highest number of confirmed cases and deaths due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Largest number
For one, China – ground zero for the coronavirus – has the largest number of cases with more than 80,000 infected so far.

Italy is likewise the country with the third largest number of cases as it recorded over 7400 who tested positive for the virus.

As of Monday night, the Philippines recorded 24 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. These include one death – a Chinese tourist who was the first fatality to be recorded outside China.

Worldwide, the death toll has exceeded 3800, while more than 109,000 people have been infected in more than 100 countries.

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