Duterte proposes new task force on new COVID-19 variant

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 28, 2020   •   449

President Rodrigo Duterte has proposed the creation of a task force that would focus on the new variant of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

After the emergence of the new strain in the United Kingdom (UK) and several other countries, President Rodrigo Duterte called for an emergency meeting on Saturday (December 26).

“I would suggest that we create a panel whose job would be only to observe the different progression and the identification of the new strain,” he said.

Duterte reiterated the need to prepare through stricter border control, surveillance, and enhanced monitoring of cases in other countries. The national government already extended the (UK) travel ban until January 14.

The COVID-19 variant was also detected in Japan, Canada, Singapore, and Australia. AAC

PH gov’t urged to build more facilities instead of using schools as quarantine sites, hospitals

Robie de Guzman   •   April 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Wednesday called on the national government to expedite the construction of quarantine centers and field hospitals, instead of using school buildings for COVID-19 patients, to ease the burden on the country’s health care system.

Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts, and Culture, said that using schools as isolation facilities “is not sustainable and does not foster a culture of safety in the basic education system.”

“Ang mabilis na pagpapatayo ng mga field hospitals at mga quarantine centers ang isang paraan upang mabigyan natin ng agarang atensyon ang mga kababayan nating nagkakasakit,” he said in a statement.

“Imbes na masanay tayong gumamit ng mga paaralan bilang isolation facilities o evacuation centers, ang dapat nating tiyakin ay ang pagkakaroon ng sapat at angkop na mga pasilidad para sa mga nangangailan ng tulong medikal,” he added.

The senator also pointed out that before the pandemic, the prolonged use of school facilities in times of disasters, such as evacuation centers during calamities, tends to delay the resumption of classes.

Gatchalian pitched anew his proposal to build an evacuation center in every city and municipality in the country, which is stated in Senate Bill No. 747 that he filed in 2019.

Under the proposed measure, these evacuation centers will provide temporary accommodation for people who have been evacuated or displaced from their homes due to emergencies, including the outbreak of illnesses and diseases.

The Department of Education earlier said it has allowed some schools in the country to be used as quarantine facilities for suspected coronavirus cases to help decongest hospitals from COVID-19 admission. Other schools were also being used as vaccination sites.

The department also stressed that its terms and conditions should be satisfied and that compliance with quarantine guidelines should be ensured before a school can be converted into a quarantine facility.

The use of public schools as a quarantine facility or vaccination site should also be the “last option,” stressing the need to ensure the safety of personnel who report for work on-site.

US advises citizens vs traveling to PH due to COVID-19 situation

Maris Federez   •   April 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines –The United States (US) government has issued an advisory for its citizens to avoid travel to the Philippines due to a “high-level” of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for the Philippines due to COVID-19, indicating a very high level of COVID-19 in the country,” the US Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA) announced in its website.

The CA said that aside from COVID-19, crimes, terrorism, civil unrest, and kidnapping are among the reasons cited by the CDC in placing the Philippines on Level 4 advisory.

The bureau advises US citizens to exercise increased caution in going to the Philippines, and to “read the Department of State’s COVID-19 page before you plan any international travel.”

“There are restrictions in place affecting U.S. citizen entry into the Philippines,” the CA said.

The Do Not Travel advisory specifically indicated the Sulu Archipelago, including the southern Sulu Sea, due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, and kidnapping; and Marawi City in Mindanao due to terrorism and civil unrest.

It also advised to Reconsider Travel to other areas of Mindanao due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, and kidnapping.

The State Department added that should US citizens decide to travel to the Philippines, they must visit the U.S. Embassy’s webpage regarding COVID-19, the CDC’s webpage on Travel and COVID-19, monitor local media for breaking events, and adjust their plans based on new information, and other follow other precautions specified.

Countries that were issued a Level 4 travel warning include Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, and Spain among others.  —/mbmf

PSA urged to suspend face-to-face registration for nat’l ID system, other surveys

Robie de Guzman   •   April 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – A solon has called on the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) to temporarily halt its door-to-door data collection for the national identification system following reports of 400 persons being placed under quarantine after a data enumerator was found positive for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a letter addressed to PSA National Statistician Claire Dennis Mapa, Albay Representative Joey Salceda said face-to-face data collection and other surveys should be suspended to prevent a super-spreader event.

“I appeal strongly to your office to temporarily suspend door-to-door and face-to-face data collection for the national ID system and other surveys until we could reasonably guarantee that enumerators will not be vectors for infection,” Salceda said.

He said some 400 individuals are currently undergoing home quarantine in Polangui, Albay because of an enumerator who tested positive for COVID-19.

“If infection is confirmed, the enumerator would have been a super-spreader,” Salceda said.

“Even if a super-spreader event does not take place, the protocols have forced contacts of the enumerator to quarantine, interrupting their livelihoods,” he added.

The lawmaker also stressed that data enumerators themselves are also “at risk of being close contacts of the infected.”

“If the PSA will insist on face-to-face registration, enumerators should at least be vaccinated,” he said.

Salceda urged the PSA to look for ways to conduct data gathering acting that do not endanger the public.

“While I support the national ID system and completing it as soon as possible to help distribute necessary social programs, we should conduct data gathering activities in ways that do not endanger the lives of our citizens,” he said.

 

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