DOH disinfects Athletes’ Village in New Clark City after Diamond Princess repatriates leave

Robie de Guzman   •   March 13, 2020   •   420

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday, March 13 conducted extensive cleaning and sanitation at the Athletes’ Village in New Clark City after repatriates from the MV Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan completed their 14-day quarantine.

In a statement, Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) said personnel from DOH Central Luzon Center for Health Development disinfected and sanitized all rooms used by the repatriates during their quarantine.

A video posted by the BCDA on Facebook showed DOH personnel wearing full protective gears cleaning and disinfecting the rooms.

“We would like to assure everyone, especially those residing in the adjacent communities of New Clark City, that the Athletes’ Village has been thoroughly sanitized by the DOH,” BCDA President and CEO Vince Dizon said.

A total of 445 repatriates from the virus-hit cruise ship in Japan stayed at the quarantine facility when they arrived on February 25.

They completed their two-week quarantine on March 11, Wednesday. Two of the 445 repatriates tested positive for the virus.

The DOH earlier announced that the rooms used by two crew members infected with the virus were immediately and thoroughly disinfected after they were transferred to the hospital.

“New Clark City will remain on lockdown in accordance with the government’s directive to the public to refrain from visiting public places,” Dizon added.

As of Thursday, the Philippines has 52 confirmed infections with five fatalities.

DOH looking for 95,000 allied medical professionals to join contact tracing efforts

Marje Pelayo   •   May 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) needs to hit a benchmark of 126,000 Covid trackers to comply with the standards of the World Health Organization (WHO) of one tracker per 800 Filipinos.

So far, the DOH has 38,000 contact tracers across the country and is now calling for the cooperation of local government units in hiring more for their respective localities.

“Ito pong 95,000 na sinasabi, kagaya ng sabi ninyo, amin pong hihingin ang tulong ng ating mga local government units para makahanap po tayo nitong ating mga contact tracers na ito (We will ask the help of local government units to scout for the additional 95,000 contact tracers),” said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

Contact tracers will receive salary and compensation set by the Civil Service Commission (CSC).

Vergeire said the DOH has already submitted a proposal to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) with regard to the applicant requirements and qualifications.

Specifically, applicants must be allied medical professionals or graduates and undergraduates of allied medical courses. 

“Competencies include data gathering, being able to interview cases and close contacts to gather data on travel history and conduct health assessment, and advocating public health because they need to provide health education messages as well,” Vergeire said of the job description. 

The DOH is also eyeing augmentation from barangay health workers and social workers to help in the government’s response against coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The WHO pointed out earlier the need to fast track contact tracing efforts in the Philippines to be able to immediately isolate those with direct contact to confirmed COVID-19 cases to curb the spread of the virus. MNP (with details from Aiko Miguel)

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DILG warns of charges vs LGUs that reject entry of returning OFWs

Marje Pelayo   •   May 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Interior Secretary Eduardo Año has warned local government units (LGU) of facing charges for rejecting overseas Filipinos returning to their localities after serving their quarantine period for coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Año stressed that non-acceptance of OFWs who wish to return to their hometowns would mean violation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act and would incur serious consequences.

“Hindi pwede na sasabihin ninyo na: ‘Zero COVID kami kaya hindi kami tatanggap ng OFW.’ Hindi pwede iyan, (You can’t say: “We’re zero COVID so we will not accept OFWs.” That’s not acceptable),” Año said.

“I myself will make sure na hahabulin ko kayo (to go after you),” he warned.

Secretary Año emphasized the importance of proper coordination between the LGU and the national government in ferrying OFWs to their respective hometowns.

With proper communication, the LGU will be able to plan ahead for the arrivals of the OFWs and provide them the much-needed assistance.

“Ang gusto ko may tatlong araw na aabisuhan ang ating mga LGUs bago ang biyahe kasi maghahanda pa iyan ng sasakyan na magsusundo pati ang kanilang isolation facilities ay ihahanda nila at syempre dapat alam nila ang pangalan ng mga uuwi,” Año explained.

(What I want is to inform LGUs three days ahead of the scheduled trip because they need to prepare transportation and they need to set up their isolation facilities. Also, they need to know the names of those arriving.)

Criticisms have been mounting with regard to the government’s handling of OFWs in quarantine facilities as they have been delayed for so long in addition to the hassle of getting their COVID-19 clearance to finally go home. 

One complaint came from Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez who vented his ire on Facebook after a number of OFWs were sent to his locality without proper coordination. MNP (with details from Joan Nano)

Duque: Pagbubukas ng klase sa Agosto, ligtas basta’t matitiyak ang minimum health standards

Robie de Guzman   •   May 26, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Naniniwala si Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III na ligtas ang pagbubukas ng klase sa Agosto 24 basta’t maipatutupad ang kinakailangang minimum health standards sa mga paaralan.

Inihayag ni Duque ang kanyang opinyon nang hingan siya ng pahayag ni Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go sa isinagawang virtual hearing ng Senate Committee on Health and Demography ngayong Martes.

“Pag-aralan po namin maigi ito pero sa tingin po namin, ligtas naman po kung bubuksan natin ang klase by August 24. Ang kinakailangan po rito, siguraduhin lamang na ang lahat ng ating minimum standards for health ay nakatalaga,” ani Duque.

Kabilang aniya sa minimum health standards na kailangang masunod ay ang pagkakaroon ng physical distancing, palagiang paghuhugas at pagdi-disinfect ng mga kamay at pagkakaroon ng thermal scanner upang ma-check kung mataas ang temperatura ng katawan ng isang tao.

“Tingin ko magiging ligtas naman po ang pagbubukas ng ating pong mga paaralan at meron din po tayong evidence-based na atin pong titingnan gaya ng ginagawa po ng IATF,” ani Duque.

“We will continue to evaluate yung mga bilang ng mga kaso down to the barangay levels,” dagdag pa niya.

Una nang sinabi ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte sa kanyang public address noong Lunes ng gabi na hindi siya papayag na muling magbalik-eskwela ang mga mag-aaral hangga’t walang natutuklasang bakuna kontra novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Sa paglilinaw naman ng Malakanyang ngayong Martes, ang pagkakaroon ng face-to-face o physical classes in classroom ang tinutulan ng Pangulo at tuloy pa rin naman ang pagbubukas ng academic schoolyear 2020-2021 sa Agosto.

Kung mananatili pa rin ang banta ng COVID-19 bandang Agosto, ipatutupad naman ng pamahalaan ang flexible blended learning sa lahat ng antas.

Kabilang sa paraang ito ang paggamit ng telebisyon at radyo upang maipagpatuloy ang edukasyon ng mga mag-aaral, lalo na sa mga nasa liblib na lugar at hindi maaabot ng internet.

“Kung hindi po talaga dumating ang new normal, at hindi mai-lift ang community quarantines, di po ibig sabihin na di na mag-aaral ang ating mga kabataan. Mayroon po tayong tinatawag na blended learning sangayon kay Sec. Briones ng DepEd, gagamitin po natin ang telebisyon, ang radio at ang internet para ipagpatuloy po ang edukasyon ng ating mga kabataan,” ani Roque.

Suportado naman ni Duque ang mga plano ng Department of Education (DepEd) upang maseguro ang kaligtasan at kalusugan ng mga mag-aaral.

Una nang sinabi ng DepEd na bukod sa pagsasagawa ng online classes, pinag-aaralan na rin nila sa ngayon ang iba’t ibang learning tools, work arrangement para sa mga guro at maging ang sistema ng assessment sa mga mag-aaral. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

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