Bus operators call for reopening of provincial borders

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 10, 2021   •   593

MANILA, Philippines—Provincial bus operators are calling on local government units (LGUs) to open their borders and allow the entry of buses from Metro Manila.

Provincial Bus Operators Association president, Alex Yague expressed alarm over passengers resorting to colorum vehicles offering services online.

The group is appealing to the local governments of Pangasinan, Quezon Province, Tarlac, and Bicol region allow the operation of provincial buses coming from Metro Manila.

The group also vowed to follow health safety protocols to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection.

“Buksan na nila ang kanilang probinsya at nangangako kaming mga operators dito sa mga probinsyang ito na kung anuman ang mga safety protocols na kailangang ipatupad ay willing kaming sundin lahat ng safety protocols (We are appealing to these provinces to open their borders and we promise to comply with the safety protocols implemented in their areas),” Yague said.

At the Araneta City Bus Terminal in Cubao, only trips bound for San Fernando and Dau, Pampanga were available.  There were also only few passengers.

According Araneta City Bus Terminal general manager, Mon Legaspi, there are a lot of colorum vehicles within the vicinity of Araneta, Cubao that are taking advantage of the situation and drawing in passengers that flock to the area.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said their anti-colorum operations are still active especially in the regions. However, the agency laments the lack of personnel to effectively end the illegal operation.

The LTFRB also said that once the LGUs agree to open their borders, the agency will reopen 50 percent of the bus routes that existed prior to the pandemic. AAC (with reports from Joan Nano)

Unvaxxed, partially vaxxed NCR workers allowed to use public transport for 30 days

Robie de Guzman   •   January 26, 2022

Unvaccinated and partially vaccinated employees in industries and establishments allowed to operate in the National Capital Region (NCR) will be allowed to ride public transport for 30 days, starting January 26.

In a joint statement, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said the decision was reached during their meeting last Friday, January 21, after considering the vaccination coverage in the capital region.

“Within the 30-day window, partially vaccinated workers are still allowed to board public transportation,” the statement read.

“However, since partially unvaccinated individuals are still at risk given that they do not have complete protection against the virus as clarified by the Health Department, they are also not allowed to use public transportation if vaccination remains incomplete within the 30-day window,” it added.

The DOTr is implementing a “no vaccination, no ride” policy in public transportation vehicles while the NCR is under COVID-19 Alert Level 3 and up. The NCR and other areas with high infection rates have been placed under Alert Level 3 until January 31.

DOTr Undersecretary for Administrative Service and official representative to the IATF Artemio Tuazon Jr. said that 30 days following the announcement of the new protocol, only workers in the NCR who are fully vaccinated are allowed to use public transportation.

Fully vaccinated refers to those who have completed the 2-dose primary series vaccination such as for the Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Sinovac, or Moderna brands; or the one-dose vaccination such as for the Janssen brand.

Tuazon added that the joint decision made by the DOLE, DILG, and the DOTr supports the government’s ongoing thrust to ramp up vaccination efforts, especially amid the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

“This joint decision is also meant to support the vaccination drive of the entire government,” he said.

“We want our workers to get fully vaccinated especially now that there is no longer a shortage of COVID-19 vaccines, and there is a threat of highly transmissible variants of the virus. We are giving our workers the time to get themselves vaccinated,” he added.

The DOTr official also maintained that the “no vaccination, no ride” policy is not discriminatory.

“As jointly decided by the DOLE, DILG, and DOTr, workers who will remain unvaccinated 30 days after the announcement are not being barred from their workplaces. They are simply not allowed to use public transportation, but can still use other means such as active transport, private vehicles, or company shuttle services,” said Tuazon.

DOH reiterates recommendation to double mask

Maris Federez   •   January 26, 2022

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) once again stressed the importance of taking extra effort to ensure one’s protection and safety against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

DOH Spokesperson Usec Maria Rosario Vergeire said the department is encouraging the use of double face masks to maximize the filtration of particulate matter.

“Mag-double mask upang ma-maximize ang protection at ang filtration. Atin din pong siguraduhin na hindi po maluwag at tama ang fit ng mask na ating susuotin,” Vergeire said.

Vergeire said air particles or viruses are tightly filtered if the face mask being worn is thick and is securely fit to cover the nose and the mouth.

Health officials also said that they still do not recommend the use of cloth masks alone.

“Iyong cloth, definately, ay dapat palitan ng surgical mask. Kung kaya pwede mag-doble ng surgical mask. At kung ikaw ay nagwo-work sa mga enclosed areas or iyong mga high-risk setting, iyong mga kausap mo ay talagang positive like sa mga laboratory or clinic maganda iyon KN-95,” said Dr. Ted Herbosa, a medical adviser of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19.

Infectious disease expert Doctor Rontgene Solante said that if one wants to use a cloth mask, it must be worn on top of a surgical mask for a secured fit.

“Even a surgical mask is still okay. Iyong cloth mask pwedeng doblehin lang with a surgical mask para lang karagdagang proteksyon. Pero ang importante dito ay wearing it consistently and wearing it properly,” Solante said.

Solante added that while N-95 masks ensure more protection against viruses, due to limited supply, health workers must be given priority in using them as they are the ones directly in contact in taking care of COVID-19 patients.

“Kung gagamit man tayo ng KN-95 o N-95 baka mahirapan tayo sa supply. Itong mga mask na ito ay napaka-importante nito sa mga healthcare workers o healthcare facilities,” the health expert said. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Aileen Cerrudo)


Self-test kits na aprubado ng FDA, mabibili lang sa mga otorisadong drug outlets – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   January 25, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Maaari nang mabili sa mga lisensiyado at aprubadong drug outlets ang dalawang brand ng COVID-19 Antigen Self-test kits, ayon sa Department of Health (DOH).

Ito ay matapos aprubahan ng Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ang aplikasyon ng special certification ng dalawang kumpanya para sa self-test kits na tinatawag na Abbot’s Panbio at Labnovation Technologies SARS-CoV2 Antigen rapid test.

Una nang iniulat ni FDA officer in charge Oscar Gutierrez na nabigyan na ng sertipikasyon ang dalawang brand at maaari nang gamitin sa bansa.

“Ang Panbio COVID-19 antigen self-test kit ng Abbot available po siya sa 1, 4, 10, and 20 tests per box. At yung SARS-CoV-2- antigen rapid test ng Labnovation Technologies Incorporated ito po ay self-test for home use din. Available po siya ng 2,5, and 20 tests per box,” ani Gutierrez.

Pero paalala ng Department of Health na may tamang proseso at panahon ang paggamit ng self-test kits upang masegurong tama ang ilalabas nitong resulta.

Ayon kay Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, mas mainam gamitin ang self-test kits kung may sintomas ang isang tao upang matiyak na accurate ang resulta ng kit.

“Please use it rationally, use it at the right time at tamang proseso. Ibig sabihin gagamit lang po kayo ng test kapag kayo ay nakakaramdam ng sintomas dahil ang antigen test po ay most accurate pa rin kapag kayo po ay nakakaranas ng sintomas dulot ng COVID-19,” ani Vergeire.

Ang panawagan naman ng Infectious Diseases expert na si Dr. Rontgene Solante, bigyang-prayoridad sa paggamit ng test kit ang mga may sintomas at nasa vulnerable population gaya ng mga matatanda upang agad malaman ang kanilang kondisyon at malapatan ng karampatang lunas.

“I-prioritize natin ang paggamit nitong antigen test doon sa mga may symptoms at vulnerable population. Bakit? Because these are the population that are kailangan na kung mag-positive meron tayong gamot na mga anti-viral or monoclonal antibodies para hindi po lalala ang mga infections nila to severe COVID at hindi sila maho-hospitalize,” ani Solante.

May pagkakaiba rin ang Antigen self-test kits sa rapid test kits na kalimitang ginagamit sa mga ospital at laboratory kaya payo ng DOH sa publiko na basahing mabuti ang instructional manual na nakapaloob sa bibilihing test kits.

“Ang kaibahan nito ay iyong pong specimen na kinokolekta. Ito pong mga self-administered test kits usually would have nasal specimens po ang kinukuha. Ibig sabihin kapag nasal specimen, di ganun kalalim sa inyong ilong ang pagkuha ng specimen for this test kits compared doon sa current na kailangan na guided siya ng health worker at mas malalim ang kinukuhang specimens para rito,” ang paliwanag ni Vergeire.

Paalala rin ng DOH na ang self-test kits ay available lamang sa mga otorisadong botika at hindi maaaring bilhin online.

“Bumili lamang ng self-administered test kits na aprubado nf FDA o galing po sa mga FDA-licensed drug outlets para lagi po tayong makakasiguro ana ito ay ligtas at lagi po tayong makakaseguro na makakapagbigya ng accurate na resulta,” ani Vergeire.

Paalala rin ng DOH sa publiko na i-check ang expiration date ng self-test kits at itago ang opisyal na resibo ng botikang pinagbilhan nito.

Sa ngayon ay isinasapinal na ng DOH ang guidelines, kaakibat ang evaluation ng Research Institute for Tropical Medicine at FDA hinggil sa COVID-19 self-test kits.

“Ang kagawaran namn po ng kalusugan are on our final stages dito po sa pagssusulat ng polisiya at guidelines kung paano natin gagamitin ito sa mercado,” ani Vergeire.

“Siguro po within the week makakapaglabas na tayo nitong guidelines natin,” dagdag pa niya.


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