PAPUAN CITY, Philippines — The Philippines is under an internet lockdown, but it’s not because of the Zika virus, said National Communications Commission (NCC) chairman Andres Esperon Jr. “We’re not having a shutdown because of Zika, we’re having a lockdown because of Internet,” Esperon said Thursday during a panel discussion on internet safety.
Esperon also said the Philippines is one of three countries — along with Malaysia and India — that have declared a state of emergency in the Zika pandemic.
Esperson also said that the Pampanga Internet Centre, which is located in the capital of Quezon City, is being used to test whether people are infected with Zika, the disease caused by a mosquito that can cause microcephaly in babies.
Esperons panel discussion came as officials in the Philippines are scrambling to quell fears of the spread of Zika.
In the past week, officials in Puerto Rico have said that they believe there are no cases of Zika and have declared the state of disaster.
The island, home to about 30 million people, is one the countrys poorest, most densely populated countries.
On Thursday, the government announced that all of Puerto Rico will be declared free of Zika by the end of March.
Esperoon said the government is working with private companies and other international organizations to test the population and assess the level of Zika in the country.
“That’s the main goal.
That’s the goal we are pursuing.
We have some partners that are doing that work, and we’re coordinating with them to do that,” he said.
Esperón said the health system in the island is not under the same level of scrutiny as the government and it is working closely with health authorities.
The government is taking the precautionary measures that we are taking to ensure that we don’t have any outbreaks of any viruses that could spread,” Esperons comments came amid growing public panic about the spread and potential link between the virus and microcepaly.
In a tweet late Thursday, Esperon wrote, “We have no news of the virus being spread in the city of Manila, so it may be a good time to declare all of the city free of the infection.”
Esperon did not provide further details on what measures he was taking.
Esperonia said that while the government was doing the tests, there is no plan to restrict access to the internet.
The health ministry has set up an advisory board to determine if there is a link between Zika and microchimerism, the genetic defect that can lead to the development of the disease.
The board will submit a report to the government, he said, adding that the government would be working with international partners to ensure the country’s internet is safe for its citizens.
Esperonts comments came just days after the health minister of a neighboring country announced he was putting a stop to all internet access in that country.
The Philippine government on Wednesday issued a proclamation declaring that all internet services will be shut down starting April 12.
The announcement came as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that the country may be facing the worst outbreak of Zika infection in the world.
In addition to Puerto Rico, other countries including Mexico, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela have declared states of emergency over the outbreak.
The outbreak is being linked to the emergence of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in infected people in the United States.
The number of cases in the US has jumped to more than 3,000 and officials are calling it a pandemic, with at least 1,600 confirmed and suspected cases.
“But we need to get the public’s attention on Zika. “
There is no cure for Zika, so we have to be extremely cautious,” Esperont said.
“But we need to get the public’s attention on Zika.
The virus is not confined to the U.S., it’s spreading around the world.”