Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is taking what some might call a “no nonsense” approach to dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. In what can only be described as excessive and authoritarian, Duterte’s latest move has been to ban schooling until a vaccine is developed for the novel coronavirus.
The president previously ordered the shutdown of schools in the Philippines in March and pushed back the resumption of classes of the country’s 25 million grade and high school students to the end of August. The suspension of schooling is now indefinite.
The novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has been ravaging the world since the outbreak hit Wuhan, China earlier this year. Thus far, the medical community has not discovered any effective way to treat the illness, but vaccines and treatments are currently in development. A vaccine is only expected to become available within 18 months. Developing a vaccine requires human trials to ensure that there are no dangerous or unintended side effects.
The Philippines has over 14,000 cases of the coronavirus, and has seen fewer than a thousand deaths.
While much of the world is reopening in stages with social distancing, track and tracing, and other measures in place, the Philippines president intends to keep the country on strict lockdown. President Duterte previously ordered the military and police to shoot citizens who defied the lockdown.
"I will not hesitate. My orders are to the police and military, as well as village officials, if there is any trouble, or occasions where there's violence and your lives are in danger, shoot them dead," he said. "Do not intimidate the government. Do not challenge the government. You will lose."
In a Monday address, Duterte informed viewers that he intended to keep schools and colleges closed.
"Unless I am sure that they are really safe, it's useless to be talking about opening of classes," Duterte said. "For me, vaccine first. If the vaccine is already there, then it's OK. If no one graduates, then so be it."