Filipinos in Singapore cope with work adjustments amid coronavirus crisis

Marje Pelayo   •   February 20, 2020   •   403

SINGAPORE – Employers in the city-state are making arrangements with their workers to reduce the risk of community transmission of the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Filipino domestic helper Analyn Baculinao said her employer has asked her to just stay at home even on her rest day so as not to contract the disease.

Household workers in Singapore are known for rest-day gatherings especially during Sundays.

Umpisa po noong naglabas ng advisory ang Ministry of Manpower tungkol sa domestic helper naging aware din po ang amo ko, kinausap niya ako na kung pwede huwag muna akong lumabas (Since the Ministry of Manpower issued an advisory regarding domestic helpers, my employer became aware of the situation and asked me if I could just stay at home),” Analyn told UNTV News.

“Huwag muna ako mag take ng day off kasi daw pag nag day off ako mag te-take ako ng bus, mag-e-mrt. Kaya super aware ang amo ko kaya sabi niya hanggang hindi okay hindi ka muna lalabas (She appealed that I should not take a day off for now because if I do, I would ride a bus, the MRT. My employer is aware (of the risk) that’s why she has asked me to stay indoors while the situation is not okay),” she added.

Jorge Araza, meanwhile, has no other choice but to extend his working hours as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Currently, he has to work 14 hours straight in a day because most of his Chinese office mates are under quarantine after coming from a vacation in mainland China.

“Lahat ng worker na galing sa China, quarantine ng 14 days bago sila pumasok sa site. Tapos ang mga staff naman, ang meeting namin sa mga consultant, online na ginaganap para maiwasan ang virus (All workers who returned from China are under 14-days quarantine that’s before they’ll be allowed to come to the site for work. Then, staff meetings with consultants are now being done online to prevent the spread of the virus),” Jorge, a mechanical and electrical supervisor, explained.

“Ang epekto sa amin, kulang po kami ng manpower kaya karamihan nag-e-extend po ang staff na nagta-trabaho. Tapos may pasok na po kami ng Sabado due to lack of manpower (The effect on us is lack of manpower so most of us in the office extend for additional hours. We are also required now to come to the office on Saturdays due to lack of manpower),” he added.

As of Wednesday (February 19), the Ministry of Health (MOH) reported three new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number infected to 84.

This makes Singapore the third country with the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection after China and Japan.

Of the 84, a total of 50 are still in hospital while the other 34 already recovered and discharged.

Most of those in the hospitals are already in stable condition with only four remain critical.

The World Health Organization (WHO) lauded Singapore’s efforts in handling cases of COVID-19.

“We are very impressed with the efforts they are making to find every case, follow up with contacts and stop transmission,” said World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“Singapore is leaving no stone unturned, testing every case of influenza-like illness and pneumonia, and so far they have not found evidence of community transmission,” he added.

Singapore’s campaign against the spread of coronavirus came strong as its leaders, led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, lead the efforts themselves.

On February 8, Prime Minister Lee posted a video on his Facebook in three languages encouraging Singaporeans to stay united and resolute, assuring them that the country is much prepared now than it was 17 years ago during the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars).

Among the measures the Singapore government has taken into place is the intensified contact tracing and monitoring; the implementation of the new ‘Stay-Home Notice’ for 14 days for Singapore residents and long-term pass holders returning from mainland China (outside of Hubei). MNP (with inputs from Annie Mancilla)

Apple to re-close more stores in seven states, bringing total to 77

UNTV News   •   July 2, 2020

REUTERS – Apple Inc said on Wednesday (July 1) that it would re-close more than two dozen stores in seven states, including its home state of California, bringing the total closures to 77 as coronavirus cases continue to rise.

Starting Thursday (July 2), stores will close in Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, and Oklahoma.

As of Wednesday, additional stores had already closed in Florida, Mississippi, Texas, and Utah.

Apple has taken an city-by-city approach to opening and closing stores, evaluating data for each community.

In cities where stores remain open, Apple requires face coverings for employees and customers while also performing temperature checks and frequent cleaning, the company said.

Apple has said its retail employees will continue to be paid through the closures. (Production: Angela Moore)

Number of Californians with COVID-19 keeps rising; governor declares budget emergency

UNTV News   •   June 26, 2020

California Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday (June 25) declared a budget emergency in the most populous U.S. state, blaming expenses and the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Declaring a budget emergency allows the state to tap into its rainy day fund. California anticipates a $54.3-billion budget deficit due to costs and a drop in revenue linked to the pandemic.

The state’s budget crunch lies in the shadow of coronavirus cases that continue to mount.

Nearly 5,350 people tested positive for the coronavirus in California the past 24 hours, Newsom said. The increase was smaller than Wednesday’s (June 24) record of 7,149 new cases. But the number of Californians becoming very ill continued to rise, using about 34% of the available intensive care beds in the state, up from 29% on Wednesday.

A total of 4,240 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Thursday in the state, using about 9% of total available beds, Newsom said.

The surging cases have prompted the state to put 11 counties, representing about half of California’s population, on a watch list of places that might be required to roll back recent efforts to reopen their economies. (Reuters)

(Production: Jane Ross)

Paris airport’s ‘new normal’ comes with UV tunnel and thermal cameras

UNTV News   •   June 26, 2020

Orly Airport has ramped up security measures as it prepares to resume commercial flights after a nearly three-month hiatus.

With lockdown restrictions easing and Europe starting to open up its borders, scheduled flights will start on Friday (June 26), with a 6:00 a.m. Paris-Porto flight kicking off departures.

Passengers can no longer enter the terminals with non-flying companions, and wearing masks is required, Orly Airport’s passengers control officer Nathalie Chailly said.

Alcohol gel dispensers are available across the terminals, and floor markings urge social distancing. Thermal cameras are in place at the arrival area, where passengers with a temperature of 38 degrees or above can benefit from a medical consultation, but will not be forced to go under quarantine.

Tech firm LabScience has a developed a prototype of an ultraviolet-rays decontaminating tunnel, being tested at Orly Airport. The tunnel uses a high concentration of ultraviolet light over 4 to 5 seconds to kill micro-organisms on a piece of luggage or a coat, before the objects are scanned by x-ray.

Orly, the second biggest airport serving the capital, was shut to passengers on March 31.

Around 74 departures and arrivals in total are scheduled for Friday, compared to a usual load of 600 flights a day, according to Orly Airport.

Only domestic flights and flights to and from Schengen countries and France’s overseas departments will be flying out of Orly, through companies including Air France, Air Caraibe, Transavia and Wizz Air. The airport is expecting around 8,500 passengers on Friday, sharply down from the daily average of 90,000 passengers before the pandemic.

Duty-free shops will also re-open on Friday. (Reuters)

(Production: Antony Paone, Michaela Cabrera)

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