Dominguez tells DOF, attached agencies to prepare back-to-office plans

Robie de Guzman   •   October 22, 2021   •   322

MANILA, Philippines ­– Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has ordered the department and its attached agencies and state corporations to prepare their respective plans on transitioning work back to their respective offices.

In a statement, the DOF said Dominguez has emphasized that the back-to-office plans should strictly adhere to health and safety protocols being implemented against COVID-19.

The order comes after more than a year of shifting to work-from-home (WFH) arrangements because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it added.

Dominguez said that as more government employees get fully vaccinated, the DOF and its agencies such as the Bureaus of Customs (BOC), of Internal Revenue (BIR), of Local Government Finance (BLGF) and of the Treasury (BTr); Insurance Commission (IC), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and other attached organizations should gradually shift to working normally in their respective offices.

The transition plans, Dominguez said, should include testing protocols for employees and their immediate families, and seminars to educate them on how to return safely to full-time office work.

“I think that we should already have a plan for transitioning back into working normally. In other words, back-to-office work,” Dominguez said during a recent executive committee (Execom) meeting.

“I’d like everybody to start working on this plan already assuming that we’re going to have to live with this virus,” he added.

The Interagency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has yet to allow the full transition to back-to-office arrangements with the National Capital Region (NCR) now under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) with Alert Level 3 status.

The DOF said that 76.6 percent of its employees have been fully vaccinated, as of October 8.

Solon calls for immediate EUA approval of molnupiravir

Maris Federez   •   December 9, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines — House Committee on Ways and Means chairperson Joey Salceda on Thursday called on the Food and Drug Administration for the immediate approval of the emergency use authorization of COVID-19 retrovirals like molnupiravir.

Salceda said the opening of the economy will depend on the efforts of the government to not just prevent the spread of the virus but to eventually end it.

The lawmaker noted that some medical experts believe that it is possible that the day will come when COVID-19 may just be a seasonal disease that can be treated at home.

Economic managers, Salceda said, recommend that the government must take a new approach and focus on coming up with measures to treat COVID-19 the way common flu is treated.

“Recently, the economic managers have said that the approach must now shift from pandemic to endemic. That involves a shift from mobility restrictions that try to completely prevent any infection, to an approach that treats COVID-19 as a very normal, as normal as getting a flu,” Salceda said. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

NCR hospitals report decreasing number of COVID-19 patients

Maris Federez   •   December 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Several hospitals in the National Capital Region (NCR) have reported a significant decrease in the number of patients admitted due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19), according to the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines (PHAPi).

PHAPi president Dr. Jose Rene de Grano said a number of private hospitals nationwide, particularly in Metro Manila, have reported not having COVID-19 patient confinements.

Hospitals that still have COVID-19 patients are of non-severe cases.

“Karamihan sa kanila halos kung hindi man zero, it’s less than 5 or 2 na nga lang yung iba eh. Meron din talagang zero or wala na. And yung cases nga, hindi na kagrabe katulad nung iba dati,” De Grano.

De Grano added that half of the more than 600 PHAPi member hospitals have recorded low COVID-19 admissions.

This, De Grano said, allows hospitals to focus their attention on non-COVID-19 patients.

“Yung mga private hospitals ngayon, nakaka-concentrate kami on non-COVID cases. But still, we are prepared just in case magkaroon tayo ng maraming COVID cases ulit,” he said.

“Mas nakakarelax ang ating healthcare workers, doctors and nurses. Actually, ang pino-focus nila ngayon is ang vaccination,” he added.

However, he warned hospitals not to be too complacent as there are still hospitals outside of the nation’s capital that still have COVID-19 cases.

He, nevertheless, assured that private hospitals are ready and prepared to accept COVID-19 patients, if and when warranted.

Meanwhile, government hospitals have also reported a decreasing number of COVID-19 patients admitted.

The National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) has reported that the number of COVID-19 cases confined in the hospital has reduced to only 18, with only one patient in the intensive care unit (ICU).

NKTI executive director Dr. Rose Marie Rosete-Liquete added that the hospital now has only one health worker under quarantine.

“Ang admission namin is zero to one a day. The past weekend, zero zero eh. Yesterday, one-one. Malaking bagay na nakababa kumpara before na nag-100 plus cases kami,” Liquete said.

“Malaking bagay na ito, nakakahinga na sila. Nakakahinga na kami,” she added.

Liquete said several rooms that have been transformed into COVID-19 rooms are not back to being non-COVID rooms.

The Philippine General Hospital, as of December 5 announced that the hospital now only has 59 COVID-19 patients confined.

Despite this development, PHAPi appealed to the government to keep the country under alert level 2 until the end of the year.

The group also reminded the public to still observe minimum health protocols at all times.

“We should still be careful dahil nandiyan pa rin ang COVID. Sakaling magkaroon tayo ng pagtitipon, kung maaari siguro sa close relatives na lang o sa family na lang. At iwasan na po natin yung maraming masyadong pagtitipon ng sa gayon ay ma-enjoy natin ang ating vacation,” De Grano said.

Liquete, on the other hand, advised the public to stay away from big groups. She also called on those who are not yet vaccinated to receive their jab.

“Iwasan ang big groups, at saka for those who are not vaccinated, magpabakuna na po,” Liquete said. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

Philippines adds France to COVID-19 ‘red list’

Robie de Guzman   •   December 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) on Wednesday placed France on the Philippines’ red list or countries that are high risk for COVID-19, Malacañang said.

In a statement, acting Presidential Spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the escalation of France to the Red list is effective 12:01 a.m. of December 10 to 15.

Travelers who have been to France within 14 days immediately preceding arrival in the Philippines, and who will arrive on December 10 to 12, shall be required to undergo facility-based quarantine for 14 days with an RT-PCR test on the 7th day, with day one being the date of arrival.

“Notwithstanding a negative RT-PCR result, the completion of the 14-day quarantine is required,” Nograles said.

Beginning 12:01 a.m. of December 13 until December 15, entry in any port of the Philippines shall not be allowed for passengers coming from or who have been to France within the last 14 days prior to arrival in the Philippines, regardless of vaccination status.

Only Filipinos returning to the country via government-initiated or non-government-initiated repatriation, and Bayanihan Flights may be allowed entry, subject to existing testing and quarantine protocols for Red List countries/territories/jurisdictions.

“As with all international inbound travel, the testing and quarantine protocols for minors shall follow the testing and quarantine protocols of the parent/guardian traveling with them, regardless of the minor’s vaccination status,” Nograles said.

“This notwithstanding, children 3 years old and below, regardless of country of origin, shall be exempt from the requirement of presenting a negative RT-PCR test result before boarding the flight, unless symptomatic,” he added.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Palace official said that passengers who arrived prior to December 10, 2021 and are currently undergoing quarantine shall complete the testing and quarantine protocols in effect at the time of their arrival.

All passengers, whether Filipinos or foreigners, merely transiting through France shall not be deemed as having come from or having been to said country if they stayed in the airport the whole time and were not cleared for entry into such country by its immigration authorities.

Upon arrival in the Philippines, they shall comply with the applicable testing and quarantine protocols for passengers who have not been to any Red List country/territory/jurisdiction.

The updated Red List comes amid the looming threat of newly discovered Omicron COVID-19 variant.

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