Deaf Belgians demand transparent masks for lip-reading during COVID-19 pandemic

UNTV News   •   May 7, 2020   •   469

As Belgium obliges people to wear face masks on public transport and recommends them elsewhere to limit the spread of the coronavirus, deaf people are calling for transparent masks to allow them to communicate with others.

For the hearing-impaired who rely on lip-reading to complement sign language, even buying an ice cream can now be difficult as shop assistants wear medical or home-made cotton masks that cover almost half the face.

“We are no longer able to read lips. It prevents communication,” said Marie-Florence Devalet of Belgium’s French-speaking deaf federation, saying it can add to the anxiety of living through a pandemic.

Over 5% of the world’s population – or 466 million people – has disabling hearing loss, according to the World Health Organization.

Belgium, like other European countries, is slowly coming out of lockdown as the wave of transmission of the coronavirus eases, but donning masks is new to much of the population.

With green and white medical masks around the world in short supply, transparent masks are even harder to find. Some are advertised online but usually end up being face shields for the whole head and worn by medical staff in hospitals.

At the Royal Woluwe Institute in Brussels, a special-needs school, teachers are sewing masks that contain a transparent window to show the mouth, which can be especially important for children with autism.

However, each mask takes 30 minutes to make and requires a double layer of cotton fabric, ribbons and a plastic sheet.

One charity in Belgium’s Dutch-speaking Flanders region has created videos in Dutch teaching people how to make the masks with a transparent window for the mouth. French and English videos are being developed. (Reuters)

(Production Clement Rossignol, Christian Levaux)

IATF amends guidelines in NCR alert level 4 restrictions

Robie de Guzman   •   September 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (AITF-MEID) has amended the guidelines for the implementation of the Alert Level 4 in the National Capital Region (NCR), Malacañang said Friday.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the revised guidelines will take effect on October 1 should the pilot implementation of the alert level system be extended next month.

The new strategy is being imposed in virus hotspots in the NCR until September 30.

The amendments recently approved by the IATF include allowing individual outdoor exercises within general area of residence for persons not required to remain in their respective homes.

Authorities earlier allowed outdoor exercises for residents regardless of health and vaccination status, but they shall only be limited to moving within their village or barangay.

Gatherings for necrological services, wakes, inurnment, funerals for those who died of causes other than COVID-19 and for the cremains of COVID-19 deceased shall be allowed.

Attendance to these services, however, will only be limited to immediate family members, the IATF said.

All contact sports, whether indoor or outdoor, will remain prohibited. Those being conducted under a “bubble-type” setup are exempted.

Personal care establishments and home services are still not allowed. These services include aesthetic and cosmetic services or procedures, make up services, spas, reflexology, wellness, and holistic services and other similar procedures.

Positive COVID-19 antigen test results now included in case count – IATF

Robie de Guzman   •   September 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The number of individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 through rapid antigen tests will now be included in the Philippines’ case count, Malacañang said Friday.

In a televised briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) reached the decision during their meeting on Thursday in an aim to improve the reporting of COVID-19 cases.

“’Yan po ang ating objective para mas maging mabuti yung picture natin kung ilan ang total cases natin,” Roque said.

He, however, clarified that these tests will be subjected to confirmatory tests.

The use of antigen test is mostly effective for people who already manifested symptoms within the first five days of their onset as the viral load of the patient is at the highest during this time.

In line with this, the IATF directed the Department of Health NCR Center for Health Development to monitor and facilitate registration of facilities using rapid antigen kits.

They must also ensure that antigen line tests are collected and consolidated from health facilities, localities, as well as temporary treatment and monitoring facilities.

“Kaugnay nito, ang Department of Health NCR Center for Health Development ay inatasang mag-facilitate ng registration ng facilities na gumagamit ng rapid antigen kits,” he said.

“Augmentation of disease surveillance surveillance staff and encoders are considered to ensure that line lists are generated and submitted on a daily basis,” he added.

As of Sept. 23, the Philippines has 165,780 active COVID-19 cases based on DOH data.

Duterte asks PNP, AFP to deploy medical personnel to hospitals needing more staff

Robie de Guzman   •   September 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has asked the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to prepare for the deployment of their medical personnel to hospitals that are in need of additional manpower.

“Kung wala nang iba, ‘yung mga nurses sa pulis marami yan, pati sa medical corps ng army. I have to use a little of my influence sa kanila to convince them,” Duterte said in a taped public address aired late Wednesday.

“Please place your human resources on ready, on deck because talagang alam mo yun lang madali kong maasahan,” he added.

Duterte issued the statement after receiving reports that a lot of medical personnel, particularly in St. Luke’s Medical Center were unable to go on duty due to COVID-19 infection.

The AFP said it has started deploying a number of its personnel to some hospitals in Metro Manila as it continues look for more nurses from its ranks.

The PNP, for its part, said it is currently accounting the number of its medical teams that could be deployed to assist medical workers amid rising cases of COVID-19.

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