MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) on Thursday said it has downgraded the alert on Taal Volcano to level 1 following the decrease in volcanic quakes and surface activity at the main crater.
In its bulletin, Phivolcs said the Taal Volcano’s condition in the succeeding four weeks after its alert was lowered to level 2, has been characterized by low-level volcanic earthquake activity, stabilizing ground deformation of the Taal Caldera and the Taal Volcano Island edifices, and weak surface activity at the Main Crater and the Daang Kastila fissure.
“DOST-PHIVOLCS is lowering the alert status of Taal Volcano from Alert Level 2 to Alert Level 1 to reflect the overall decreasing trend in the level of monitoring parameters,” its bulletin reads.
State volcanologists said that alert level 1 means that the volcano is still in “abnormal condition,” and that this “should not be interpreted that unrest has ceased or that the threat of an eruption has disappeared.”
Under alert level 1, sudden steam-driven or phreatic explosions, volcanic earthquakes, minor ashfall and lethal accumulations or expulsions of volcanic gas can occur and threaten areas within the Taal Volcano Island.
The alert level may be raised back to alert level 2 “should pronounced change in monitored parameters forewarn of renewed unrest,” Phivolcs said.
The agency reminded residents that entry to Taal’s permanent danger zone, especially the vicinities of the Main Crater and the Daang Kastila fissure, remains strictly prohibited.
The Taal Volcano was placed under alert level 4 when it spewed ash on January 12 which sent thousands of residents to temporary shelters and disrupted businesses in surrounding areas.
It was later lowered to alert level 2 several weeks later due to decreased unrest. — ROBIE DE GUZMAN
Starting next week, France will close all creches, schools and universities to try to curb the spread of the coronavirus, President Emmanuel Macron said in a televised address on Thursday (March 12).
Describing the outbreak as France’s biggest public health crisis in a century, Macron also urged employers to let staff work from home, and said that the elderly and people with health conditions should stay indoors.
He said, however, that municipal elections scheduled for this weekend should go ahead.
He said that to ease the economic impact, the state would take over paying salaries of people forced to stop work, and that businesses would not have to pay taxes that fall due in March.
On the European level, he said the latest measures to support the economy unveiled by the European Central Bank were not sufficient, and that he would work with European partners on a major package to relaunch the economy “whatever it costs.”
In a veiled reference to U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to suspend some travel to the United States, Macron said nationalism was not the answer to the virus.
He said the disease has no nationality, and that if national frontiers had to be closed, it would only be when it was essential, and in coordination with the rest of Europe. (Reuters)
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Tuesday directed the Philippine National Police (PNP), and all mayors and village chiefs in Metro Manila to keep students away from malls, public markets and other crowded places following the declaration of class suspensions until March 14.
President Rodrigo Duterte on late Monday night announced the suspension of classes in Metro Manila as part of government efforts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the communities.
“The President has directed all local officials in NCR from mayor down to punong barangays as well as all units of the Philippine National Police to ensure that no children are seen loitering around and, if they are seen, they are to be immediately sent home to do their homework,”DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said in a statement.
“Our police officers and the barangay officials will serve as truant officers to ensure that kids stay at home. I have also directed all our Metro Manila Mayors to personally direct their respective Chiefs of Police to implement the presidential directive so that Local Governments and the police will jointly implement this policy of the government,”he added.
Año said the class suspension aims to pre-empt social distancing in order to slow down the virus spread, and that allowing students to go to public places during this time will defeat the very purpose of the action.
The DILG chief called on students’ parents to cooperate, monitor their children’s activities and ensure they stay home to do their homework to remain productive despite class suspensions.
“In the Task Force Meeting last night in Malacañang, the DepEd (Department of Education) said that they will give home assignments or performance tasks to all students so that they will have something productive to do during this period,” he said.
In a separate statement, DepEd earlier said it already directed schools to facilitate communication with the students and parents and to provide the necessary assignments to continue the process of learning the required competencies.
Home quarantine measures will also be strictly enforced for those suspected of having contracted coronavirus.
Meanwhile, Año called on all local government units in Metro Manila to temporarily suspend all mass gatherings to stop the spread of the virus.
He also reminded the public to maintain proper hygiene, and boost their immune system to fight the disease.
“We have no choice but to undertake these measures because public health demands it. Together with sustained hygiene (like regular handwashing, coughing etiquette, thermoscans and face masks), suspensions of classes and mass gathering will enable us to defeat this virus faster,” he said.
According to DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya, the decision to suspend classes and mass gatherings this week was recommended by the DOH Expert Advisory Group in order to lower the number of people exposed to the virus, as well as decrease the risk of transmission per contact.
The DILG official also reiterated there is no need to lockdown Metro Manila following confirmation of the virus’ local transmission.
“We are still at Sublevel 1 and this type of alert level does not require a lockdown but only enhanced hygiene and preemptive social distancing measures,” Malaya said.
He also clarified that the following measures are only applicable in Metro Manila as of this time.
“There is no decision yet about other places in the country. That would be dependent on the findings and recommendations of the DOH,” he said.
As of posting time, the country has 24 confirmed novel coronavirus cases.
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