195 PDLs, 38 BJMP employees tested positive for COVID-19

Maris Federez   •   May 5, 2020   •   1128

Inmates at the Manila City Jail | Courtesy: Photoville International

MANILA, Philippines — Close to 400 persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) at the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) have undergone the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing.

The Department of Health (DOH) also reported that of the 373 PDLs who went through the test, 195 have yielded positive results.

Thirty-eight employees of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) have also been infected with the deadly disease.

“Nakikipag-ugnayan ang DOH sa BJMP pati rin sa Philippine Red Cross (PRC) upang masiguro ang maagang ma-test, ma-isolate at magamot ang ang persons deprived of liberty, maging ang mga empleyado natin ng BJMP upang maiwasan ang pagkalat ng COVID-19 sa loob ng mga kulungan,” said DOH spokesperson Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire.

The DOH also said that the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have visited the Correctional Institute for Women where a significant number of detainees have tested positive of COVID-19.

Several testing activities are also being conducted among the PDLs and BJMP employees in different detention facilities in the country as part of the preventive measures against the infectious disease.

The DOH is determined to reach its target of 30,000 COVID-19 tests per day until the end of May.

Vergeire said the agency’s four soon-to-be-opened swabbing centers will be a big help in intensifying the country’s testing capability.

These swabbing centers are located in Bulacan, Pasay City, Taguig City and along Roxas Blvd. in Manila.

“Ang lahat ng ito ay magbubukas anomang araw ngayong linggo ayon kay BCDA (Bases Conversion and Development Authority) President Vince Dizon. Upang maabot ang ating mga resulta ng target na 30,000 tests kada araw sa darating na Mayo 31, ang DOH ay may itinalagang karagdagang lab encoders upang mapabilis ang labas ng mga resulta ng COVID-19 tests na isinagawa,” Vergeire added.

The health department will also deploy additional manpower in the designated swabbing centers to help fast track the processing of results. — (from the report of Aiko Miguel) /mbmf

Patuloy na genomic surveillance at restrictive alert level, kailangan vs bagong COVID-19 variant

Robie de Guzman   •   November 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Naniniwala ang isang infectious disease expert na dapat magpatuloy ang ipinatutupad na genomic surveillance at restrictive alert level upang maagapan ang pagpasok ng panibagong variant ng novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Ayon kay Infectious Disease Specialist at Department of Health Technical Advisory Group member, Dr. Edsel Salvaña, nakakabahala ang presensiya ng bagong COVID-19 variant kaya dapat magpatuloy ang genomic surveillance ng Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, Philippine Genome Center at National Institutes of Health upang ma-monitor kung may bagong coronavirus variant na nakapasok sa bansa.

“Sinusubaybayan natin ito bagamat hindi pa siya nagte-take over tulad ng Delta, nakakabahala rin ang mutations na taglay nito,” ani Salvaña.

“Lahat ng ginagawa natin para maprevent ang pagpasok ng bagong varaint, tuloy naman po talaga iyan. For instance yong genomic surveillance […] and the fact na na-detect na ang variant na ito at pinag-uusapan na ng WHO. Iyong UK nga nag- travel ban na sila. It shows na iyong ating global genomic surveillance is working and hopefully we can prevent the spread of any new variants that come up,” dagdag pa niya.

Ang bagong COVID-19 variant na B.1.1.529 ay natuklasan sa bansang South Africa noong Nobyembre 23 mula sa samples na kinuha mula November 14 hanggang 16.

Bagama’t wala pang kumpletong detalye ang sinasabing bagong variant at variant under monitoring pa lang ang klasipikasyon nito sa ngayon, sinabi ng World Health Organization (WHO) na kailangang bantayan ito ng maigi dahil nagtataglay ito ng maraming mutations na maaaring makaapekto sa behavior o bagsik ng virus.

Inaalam rin ang epekto ng variant sa diagnostics, sa bisa ng bakuna at mga gamot na ginagamit sa mga pasyenteng may COVID-19.

“We don’t know very much about this yet. What we do know is that this variant has a large of number mutations,” ang pahayag ni Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, ang COVID-19 Technical Lead ng WHO.

“Right now, researchers are getting together to where these mutations are and what that potentially mean for our diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines,” dagdag pa niya.

May mga kaso na ng ganitong variant na naitala sa ilang bahagi ng South Africa gaya ng Johannesburg, Gauteng at Botswana.

May napaulat na rin sa Hong Kong na isang biyahero mula sa South Africa.

Sa Pilipinas, wala pang iniuulat na kaso ng B1.1.529.

Tiwala naman si Salvaña na agad maaagapan ang pagpasok sa bansa ng nasabing variant dahil sa umiiral na COVID-19 restrictions.

Panawagan rin nito sa publiko na huwag maging kampante sa kabila ng pagbaba ng mga kaso dahil nananatili pa rin ang banta ng COVID-19. (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

Mga ‘di susunod sa health protocols, pwedeng hindi papasukin sa mga establisimyento – Malakanyang

Robie de Guzman   •   November 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – May karapatan ang mga publiko at pribadong establisimyento na pagbawalang pumasok ang mga taong hindi susunod sa health protocols gaya ng tamang pagsusuot ng face mask.

Ayon kay acting Presidential spokesperson at Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, binigyan na ng pahintulot ng Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) ang mga establisimiyento na huwag papasukin ang sinumang susuway sa patakaran laban sa hawaan ng COVID-19.

“Mayroon pong authority ang mga establishments na doon sa mga di nagsusuot ng face mask o ‘di kayang magsuot ng face mask kabilang na po dito ang mga menor de edad, ay mayroon na po silang authority na di po papasukin sa kanila pong establismyento,” ani Nograles.

Panawagan namang opisyal sa mga lokal na pamahalaan na tiyaking naipatutupad ang minimum health standards sa kani-kanilang mga nasasakupan upang maiwasan ang muling pagtaas ng kaso ng coronavirus infections.

Muli ring umapela ang Palasyo sa mga magulang na huwag dadalhin ang kanilang maliliit na mga anak sa malls at iba pang lugar na close, crowded at maaaring mag-promote ng close-contact activities. (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Airline companies rehiring laid-off crew as flights increase

Robie de Guzman   •   November 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines ­– Some airline companies have started the gradual rehiring of their flight and ground crew that were laid-off due to the COVID-19 pandemic as the number of flights continues to increase.

AirAsia said they will slowly reactivate over 400 former employees as domestic flights to some tourist destinations resume.

These workers include cabin crews, pilot ground staff and engineering personnel.

“Ngayon, we’re activating starting December. Mag-a-undergo na ng training yung at least 15 percent and then effective January 1, 2022, laha nitong mga All-Stars natin na nag-hibernate ay gradual na ring ire-reintegrate sa ating linya,” AirAsia spokesperson Steve Dailisan said.

AirAsia said it will also double the flights to several local destinations such as in Caticlan, which is the gateway to the world-renowned Boracay Island.

Airliner Cebu Pacific also announced it will be rehiring staff who were furloughed during the pandemic to prepare for the anticipated increase in domestic and international flights.

“Right now, we’re very prepared definitely. Our staff are fully-trained and are actually fully-vaccinated also—yung active flying crew natin. So, additional safety yan for our passengers,” said Michelle Lim, Cebu Pacific Corporate Communications Manager.

Cebu Pacific said it will also increase flights to six local destinations including Boracay Island via the Caticlan Airport, Bohol, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, and General Santos City.

Philippine Airlines (PAL) also announced it will operate more domestic and international flights amid increasing flight frequencies and booking.

PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said they are also planning to reactivate furloughed workers, but clarified they are yet to rehire laid-off workers as operations remain limited.

“By December, it will be one 1,350 in terms of cabin crew count that will be assigned to serve our flights because the number of cabin crews this year and at present and previous year was very much less because of the number of flights,” she.

Airline companies reminded passengers to be at the airport at least three hours before their scheduled flight and ensure they bring with them all travel documents required for their trip. (with details from Correspondent Asher Cadapan Jr.)

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