COVID-19 cases in the Philippines rise to 10

Marje Pelayo   •   March 9, 2020   •   926

MANILA, Philippines – Just over the weekend, confirmed cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Philippines climbed to 10, according to the Department of Health (DOH).

On Friday (March 6), the Department announced the country’s fourth and fifth cases.

The fifth case was the first confirmed local transmission of the virus, the DOH said, after verification from the Bureau of Immigration that the person had no recent travel history abroad.

The patient’s wife also tested positive for COVID-19.

Marked the sixth case, the DOH reported she is a 59-year-old female who was admitted at the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM) on March 5 after showing early signs of the virus. She is currently in stable condition.

READ: PH confirms two new cases of COVID-19, first local case

On Sunday (March 8), four more infected persons of COVID-19 were confirmed.

The DOH released the details of the four additional confirmed cases on Monday morning (March 8) following the release of confirmatory tests results.

The seventh case (PH7) is a 38-year-old Taiwanese male who has no history of travel outside of the country and his symptoms started last March 3.

He has a history of contact with a Taiwanese foreign national who visited the Philippines and tested positive for COVID-19 in Taiwan.

He is currently admitted to a private hospital.

The eight case (PH8) is a 32-year-old Filipino male with history of travel to Japan within the past 14 days and the onset of COVID-19 symptoms began on March 5.

The ninth case (PH9) is an 86-year-old American male with pre-existing hypertension and history of travel to USA and South Korea.

He began showing symptoms on March 1.

The tenth case (PH10) is a 57-year-old Filipino male with no history of travel outside of the country.

He was reported to have had contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case, however, DOH is currently investigating details of his exposure.

All four patients are currently admitted to a private hospital.

In anticipation of the possible sustained local transmission, the Department raised the country’s virus alert system to Code Red Sublevel 1 though it clarified that it was a “preemptive call to ensure that “the national and local governments and public and private health care providers can prepare for possible increase in suspected and confirmed cases.”

“The DOH is currently exhausting all its efforts to identify others who may have come in contact with the confirmed cases to ensure that this localized transmission does not progress to community spread,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said.

Following the upgrade of the COVID-19 alert system, the DOH has recommended the declaration of a state of public health emergency across the country which means the “mobilization of resources, ease processes, including procurement of critical logistics and supplies, and intensifying reporting.”

READ: Duterte agrees to declare public health emergency due to COVID-19

“This declaration is a signal to all concerned agencies, Local Government Units and health care providers to be ready to implement planned response measures. We are continuously reminding everyone to practice personal protective measures such as hand hygiene, social distancing, and proper cough etiquette. Avoid unnecessary travel and postpone mass gatherings, as well. It is our individual responsibility to protect ourselves and the people around us,” the Health Secretary remined.

“Only through collective action in our communities will we be able to limit the spread of the virus,” he said.

Metro Manila to likely transition to GCQ after May 31 —Palace

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 28, 2020

Metro Manila has a possibility to transition to General Community Quarantine (GCQ) from Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) after May 31, according to the Malacañang.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said there is a chance that the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions might ease in Metro Manila and other parts of the country.

The Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) held a meeting on Wednesday (May 27) to determine if the MECQ should continue after May 31.

“Chances are we will, in fact, be transitioning to GCQ in Metro Manila, according to the chief implementer and the DILG [Department of the Interior and Local Government] Secretary,” Roque said in a statement.

The Metro Manila Council (MMC) is also recommending to the IATF to put the National Capital Region under GCQ.

Once Metro Manila transitioned to GCQ, Roque said public transportation will resume operations but will have limited capacity.

He also appealed to the private and public sectors to finalize their work scheme where 50% will resume in worksites and 50% will work from home.

“We are appealing to both private and public sectors to ensure at least 50-50 workforce,” he said. –AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Mandaluyong City beefs up rapid testing after COVID-19 infects 277 tricycle drivers

Marje Pelayo   •   May 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Mandaluyong City government cannot decide yet on whether or not to allow tricycle drivers to operate come June 1.

This, after 277 of the 3,115 tricycle drivers who underwent rapid testing were confirmed positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The Mandaluyong City Health Office is continuously conducting rapid tests among 7,000 tricycle drivers in the city to ensure their safety and the safety of their passengers.

Those who were infected are now under isolation in the city’s quarantine facility while waiting for the confirmatory tests using the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test.

“Nagko contact tracing pa ho kami kasi scattered po ito eh. Hindi po ito kasi by area. So mina-map out pa po namin kung saan sila marami (We are doing contact tracing because these are scattered. It is not just in one area. So we are mapping out where the most number of cases are),” said Dr. Alexander Sta, Maria of the city health office.

The LGU, meanwhile, clarified that the increase in the number of confirmed cases in the city is a result of the mass testing which allowed for the immediate tracking of COVID-19 probable patients and their prompt isolation to curb further spread.

“This is coordinated kasi meron po tayong in-charge sa buong TODA. Then before po ito ni-launch, na-meeting po ang lahat ng presidente ng kanilang mga TODA so binigyan po sila ng schedule (This is a coordinated effort. There is someone in charge of the whole TODA. Before this was launched, we held a meeting with their respective presidents and all of them were given a schedule),” Sta. Maria added.

The city government will test jeepney drivers next once the tests among tricycle drivers is completed. MNP (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

House panel approves P1.5-T fund to create jobs amid COVID-19 pandemic

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 28, 2020

The House Defeat COVID-19 Committee has approved a bill seeking to provide a P1.5-trillion fund to create sustainable jobs amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

House Bill 6709 or the proposed “COVID-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus (CURES) Act of 2020″ is set to fund infrastructure projects in rural areas to help curb unemployment amid the pandemic.

The CURES Act of 2020 shall also be undertaken with the “Balik Probinsya Bagong Pag-asa Program” and the immediate funding of CURES projects shall target the construction of health centers, school buildings, vocational learning centers, as well as improving fish ports and trading centers at barangay levels.

The House Bill is expected to be sponsored on Thursday (May 28) for its 2nd reading approval in the plenary on Thursday afternoon. It will have to go through a 3rd and final reading before it can hurdle the House.

Meanwhile, representatives of other government agencies such as the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) also endorsed the approval of the proposed CURES Act of 2020. –AAC

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