DICT to launch digital vaccination certificate in September

Marje Pelayo   •   August 20, 2021   •   506

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is set to launch ‘Vax Cert PH,’ a portal where Filipinos can generate their digital vaccination certificate that can be used in contactless transactions amid the threat of COVID-19.

The project is in collaboration with the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Tourism (DOT), Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

The DICT plans to release the ‘Vax Cert PH’ in the first week of September.

‘Vax Cert PH’ requires an individual to encode his or her name and other vaccination information such as the date of the first and second dose of COVID shots as well as the brand administered.

The portal can be accessed by providing the needed information and the system will look for the record.

After entering required details,  the portal will provide the applicant the requested digital vaccination card or certificate.

In case the information being searched is not found, the individual may approach his or her local government for assistance.

“Kapag nag-match, agad-agaran nya pong makukuha yung kanyang vaccine certificate, Kung hindi man, may contact center na tatawag sa kanila at aalalayan sila para makuha ito at kung sakaling hindi pa rin mahanap ang kanilang record. Posibleng hindi pa naipadala ng ng LGU ang kanilang record,” explained DICT Undersecretary Manny Caintic.

“Huwag magaalala kasi tinuturuan namin ang mga LGU ngayon kung paano matulungan ang kanilang mga constituent sa pagkuha at pag rectify at pagayos ng kanilang mga datos,” he added.

The DICT was tasked to design and create the portal while the DOH manages the public’s vaccination records.

Currently, the DICT is conducting a full training among LGU representatives on how to handle the system.

“Hintay lang ng konti, okay na ang system handa na sya sana at naka integrate na ito sa Wolrd Health Organization Countries kaso lang gusto lang natin ng sapat na panahon para magkaroon ng kumpiyansa ang ating mga LGU,” Caintic said.

The official said the digital vaccination certificate has security features to prevent forging and the agency assured the said digital certificate will be recognized in other countries as it is based on the standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Ang vaccine information data ay talagang iisa lang ang source at ito po ay pinoproteksyunan sa pagtutulungan po namin at ang pag-i-issue po ng vaccine certificate ay privately encrypted at ito’y hawak lang po ng Department of Health,” Caintic said.

The DICT confirmed that most LGUs have already submitted their records on COVID vaccination with Metro Manila having the highest compliance rate. MNP (with reports from Marvin Calas)

2.5 million vaccinated in day 1 of PH vaccination drive – DOH exec

Robie de Guzman   •   November 30, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – More than 2.5 million individuals were inoculated against COVID-19 on the first day of the government’s three-day nationwide vaccination drive, a Department of Health (DOH) official said Tuesday.

In a public briefing, DOH Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said a total of 2,554,023 doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered on Monday.

This is 2.5 times the daily average last week, she added.

Of the total doses, the biggest chunk was administered in Calabarzon, followed by Central Luzon, Western Visayas, and Bicol regions.

Cabotaje, who also chairs the National Vaccination Operations Center, noted that the only “major challenge” they encountered in the first day of the vaccination drive were reports that some walk-ins at vaccination sites were not given the shots.

“Meron pong direktiba ang ating Presidente to vaccinate everyone… We allow walks-ins. Dapat po, walang uuwi na nakapila na hindi nabakunahan,” she said.

The government on Monday kicked off its three-day vaccination campaign, dubbed as “Bayanihan, Bakunahan” program, which aims to inoculate around 9 million people.

The campaign will end on Wednesday, December 1.

The National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 earlier said the vaccination drive will only be the first leg of the program, which is focused on scaling up the inoculation rate of local government units for the first vaccine dose by covering up to 70% of their target populations.

The second leg of the vaccination event will be held from December 15 to 17, which will focus on ramping up the number of fully vaccinated individuals to achieve the government’s target of fully vaccinating at least 54 million Filipinos by year-end.

PH tracing passengers who arrived from countries with Omicron cases – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   November 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday said it has started tracing passengers who arrived in the country from areas with local cases of Omicron COVID-19 variant.

DOH Epidemiology director, Dr. Alethea de Guzman said this is to assess them to ensure that they are not infected with the new coronavirus variant.

“Iyong mga galing sa banned countries na naunang nag-arrive ay ngayon ay tinetrace ng ating BOQ, RESUs and DILG para ma-assess sila at ma-test,” she said.

The move is in compliance to the directive of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) for The Bureau of Quarantine and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) with the local government units (LGUs) to identify and locate passengers who arrived within 14 days prior to November 29, 2021, from countries classified as Red.

This is to require them to complete quarantine under a home quarantine set-up for 14 days from date of arrival and undergo RT-PCR if symptoms develop.

The Philippine government has recently expanded the Red List to include Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy. This is in addition to South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique that were earlier placed in the Red List due to the threat of Omicron, which was first detected in the region.

The Red List, which is effective from November 28 until December 15, means that travelers, regardless of their vaccination status, coming from or who have been to the Red List areas within the last 14 days prior to their arrival will not be allowed to enter the Philippines.

Only Filipinos returning to the country via government-initiated or non-government-initiated repatriation and Bayanihan flights may be allowed entry. However, they will be subject to the prevailing entry, testing, and quarantine protocols for Red List territories.

De Guzman said authorities are now reviewing the existing protocols to address the new variant.

“Dahil nga sa pag-deklara ng Omicron as a variant of concern at ito namang Omicron na ito ay papasok hindi galing sa ating, hindi siya lalabas intransically sa Philippines pero malamang manggaling sa ibang bansa, kailangan talaga nating maglagay ng measures para ma-prevent natin, ma-delay natin as long as possible ang pagpasok ng Omicron sa ating bansa,” she said.

The Philippines has not yet recorded any case of Omicron variant based on the ongoing genome sequencing process.

The country has seen a downward trend of coronavirus infections in the past weeks.

On Monday, the Philippines logged 665 fresh COVID-19 cases, pushing the country’s total caseload to 2,832,375. This is the lowest since July 14, 2020 with 634 cases.

The country remains at low-risk classification for COVID-19.

But the DOH warned that this could spike if Omicron variant slips through the country’s borders.

The department said it has recommended to LGUs to shift back to using RT-PCR tests, instead of antigen tests to detect the presence of the Omicron variant.

“There are allegedly some tests that cannot detect kasi meron lang specific na mutations unique to Omicron na pwede lang makita ng certain RT- PCR kits,” De Guzman said.

“Ang ating mga positive samples naman ay mapapadala natin sa ating UP-Phil Genome Center at doon natin makikita kung sila ay may Omicron… Much like iyong mga may kaso ng Alpha, Beta and Delta ,kung mayroon ka ring Omicron walang pagbabago sa magiging management sa inyo ng doktor. Walang dagdag na gamot, bagong treatment. Pareho pa rin ang magiging treatment sa kanila,” she added.

De Guzman also noted that there is no clear evidence yet to say whether Omicron variant causes severe infection or if it more transmissible than other variants of concern.

“Sa ngayon, base sa mga studies, hindi natin nakikita na mas magiging apektado ang isang age group, hindi rin natin nakikita na mas magiging severe ang disease, o mas magiging mataas ang tiyansa ng pagkamatay sa mga may kaso na may Omicron variant,” she said.

“Pero dahil nakakita nga tayo ng maraming mutations dito sa variant na ito kaya itinataas natin ang pagbabantay ang ating response,” she added.

The DOH also reminded the public to take extra care as preliminary evidence suggests there may be an increased risk of reinfection with Omicron for people who have previously had COVID-19, as compared to other variants of concern.

Clusters of cases in a certain area should also be monitored and submitted for sequencing to ensure that there are no new virus mutations.

The World Health Organization classified Omicron as a variant of concern last week. Several countries imposed travel restrictions amid increased detection in nations across the world.

PH posts 890 new COVID-19 cases; active infections down to 17K

Robie de Guzman   •   November 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines on Wednesday recorded 890 new COVID-19 infections, data from the Department of Health (DOH) showed.

In its bulletin, the DOH said the latest figure brought the country’s total of recorded cases to 2,828,660.

Of the total caseload, 17,864 were active infections – 53.4% of which are mild, 21.39% are moderate, 4.8% are asymptomatic, 14.4% are severe, and 6.0% are in critical condition.

Meanwhile, total recoveries rose to 2,763,114 after 1,710 more patients recuperated from the viral disease.

The death toll climbed to 47,682 with 200 new fatalities.

The country’s positivity rate was at 2.5%, based on data gathered on November 22 from 32,254 tested individuals.

Two laboratories were not operational on November 22 while three others were not able to submit their data on time, the DOH said. The five labs contribute on average 1.5% of positive cases and 1.8% of samples tested.

Data from the DOH also indicated that 31% of intensive care unit (ICU) beds for COVID-19 patients nationwide are in use while 29% are utilized in Metro Manila.

Isolation beds nationwide are 28% occupied while 25% are in use in Metro Manila.

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