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Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday approved the extension of a lockdown and strict quarantine measures for Luzon island 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 biggest and most populous in the country with 57 million inhabitants, including the capital Manila – until April 12, reports Efe news.

The inter-governmental working group for COVID-19 on Tuesday formally recommended the President to extend the lockdown in order to reinforce measures to contain the infection curve, which was then approved by Duterte.

“We are inclined to extend the lockdown up to April 30,” Duterte said in a televised address on Monday night.

Millions of poor families who subsist day-to-day are suffering the most due to the lockdown in Luzon with all commercial activities paralyzed.

Several civil society groups have urged the government to ease the lockdown and isolate only those areas which are the COVID-10 hotspots.

To mitigate the impact among the most vulnerable sections of society, the government on Monday initiated monetary aid worth 8,000 pesos ($160) to 18 million families in a country where 16 per cent of its population is below the poverty line.

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

Health authorities have confirmed that from April 14 onwards, the Philippines would be able to carry out massive testing to isolate the positive cases, including asymptomatic ones, after the establishment of laboratories across the country and the arrival of thousands of testing kits donated by China, South Korea and Singapore.

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