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Isko Moreno self-quarantines at Manila city hall

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Manila Mayor Isko Moreno is placing himself under quarantine at Manila City Hall after travelling to London on an official trip, in a bid to prevent the possible spread of the novel coronavirus while working as the Philippine capital's local chief executive.

"I will submit myself to self-quarantine. I will stay in City Hall," a face mask-wearing Moreno said on Wednesday evening, March 11, in a roundtable meeting with Manila health and hospital officials, and his vice mayor Honey Lacuna, who were all also wearing face masks.

Why the quarantine? Moreno recently came from an official trip to the United Kingdom, which had confirmed 382 cases in its territory as of March 11.

Self-quarantine is recommended by health authorities for people who have been to areas with reported cases of the coronavirus.

How will it work? Moreno's chief of staff Cesar Chavez said the mayor would stay in his "secured office" at city hall, and would have limited interactions with Manila officials. 

The Manila mayor is also known to use Facebook to reach Manila citizens and call out underperforming government officials and employees. Both did not disclose the duration of the quarantine, but health officials usually advise a period of at least 14 days.

Moreno's call for calm: True to form, Moreno went live at around 1:30 am on Thursday, March12, beside Lacuna at his office, just minutes after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic.  

Both local executives alled for sobriety amid the panic sparked by the coronavirus outbreak, saying residents should refrain from the practice of "panic-buying" or the practice of hoarding food and supplies at the expense of others.

"I want you to live normally. 'Wag natin hayaang manalo ang virus over our normal lives. Kaya natin 'to mga kababayan," Moreno said. (Let's not allow the virus to win over our normal lives. We can do this.) 

He was seconded by Lacuna, who said: "'Wag po tayong mag-panic. Kami po sa pamahalaan ng lungsod ng Maynila, makakasiguro po kayo na lalabanan natin 'to (Let us not panic. We at the government of the City of Manila assure you that we will fight this)."

The mayor, however, said he needed the public's help. He reminded viewers to wash their hands, to avoid crowded spaces, and to reach out to the local government for information on the outbreak. Beginning on Thursday morning, the hotline will be activated at 8527-5174. 

Moreno concluded his speech telling Manila government employees to hold fast to their vow to public service, especially amid the outbreak. The mayor then vowed to the public that the city would be transparent with all developments related to the coronavirus.

"We will be honest and true enough to you [about] the state and the situation of our city," Moreno said. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

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