COVID-19 epidemic in Japan raises public concern about upcoming Olympics

UNTV News   •   March 2, 2020   •   558

The COVID-19 outbreak in Japan has triggered division in public opinion over whether the 2020 Olympics which is scheduled to be held in July could or should go ahead.

So far, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Japan, including foreigners, has risen to more than 960, with over 700 of them stemming from the virus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined in the port city of Yokohama.

The preparations for the event have already been delayed due to scandals and repeated venue changes. And now threats to the Olympics are getting more real as the coronavirus outbreak spreads in Japan.

“Though I hope it will subside by July, I’m not sure to what degree will it subside,” a pedestrian told CGTN reporter.

“When the coronavirus was first reported, I thought it might not continue for that long as the Olympics will be held in summer. But if it lingers on, that would be bad. However, I don’t think the government is considering postponing or letting other countries hold the Olympics,” said a pedestrian.

“The athletes are from different countries and regions around the world. If they are infected, they may make it spread in the country. So I wonder whether it’s possible not to host the Olympics,” another pedestrian said.

However, others are more optimistic and say the public is now taking more reasonable precautions

“I think it is quite safe to hold the Olympics here. I am from the Netherlands and when I look at the normal flu, for example, far more people get normal flu than the coronavirus. And there are more casualties than the coronavirus as well. So at the moment, I am not concerned that the coronavirus will stop the Olympics,” said a foreigner.

Meanwhile, there are worries that some countries or athletes may decide it’s not worth the risk to come to Japan.

“In a word, we should take all possibilities into consideration and take measures. If all efforts fail, then we should think about postponing or canceling the Olympic Games. But first, I believe it is essential to fulfilling what we can do,” said a pedestrian.

“I think we should see how things develop by the end of March or April. If we see it subside, we should prepare clear data and disclose it to the world,” another man said.

Although Tokyo residents are still split over the issue, most say the Games would boost morale and possibly the country’s economy. ( CCTV / CGTN VIA REUTERS CONNECT)

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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