Manila, Mar 22 (IANS): The Philippines will expand Covid-19 restrictions to four provinces near the capital Manila as confirmed cases were increasing in the country, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.
The provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal, along with the national capital region will be placed under stricter restrictions to curb the surge, Xinhua news agency reported.
The new restrictions will be effective from Monday till April 4, Roque said in a televised press conference on Sunday.
The strict rules came after the Southeast Asian country registered over 7,000 daily infections in the past three days.
The Department of Health (DOH) Sunday reported 7,757 new cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 663,794.
On Saturday, the country logged 7,999 new cases, the highest ever daily tally since the outbreak began in January 2020.
The country's death toll currently stands at 12,930.
"Only essential travel into and out of (these adjacent provinces) will be allowed," Roque said.
He said that mass gatherings, including religious congregations, are banned; face-to-face meetings in these areas are "highly discouraged"; a seven-hour curfew starting 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. will be imposed in all five regions.
"We hope that these new restrictions will lower the Covid-19 infections and stop the spread of the new coronavirus variants across the country," the presidential spokesman added.
The DOH urged people living with other persons, including the vulnerable, to wear a mask even inside their homes to avoid household transmission.
"Mask at home when not alone," a DOH advisory issued on Sunday said, stressing the need to practice preventive measures "at all times and in all settings".
"All households must ensure adequate fresh air circulation by opening windows and using fans to allow increased airflow."
The Department also urged the public to stay at home and suspend all non-essential travel "to reduce contact rate with people".
It further appealed to the people "to help free up space in hospitals for those who need it the most".
"We need to ensure that our hospitals do not get overwhelmed, so everyone must act with extreme vigilance and reduce transmission by consistently adhering to preventive measures," the DOH added.