Fireworks-related injuries prompt renewed calls for ban

Robie de Guzman   •   January 2, 2020   •   320

Medical personnel at East Ave Medical Center, Quezon City checks 11-year-old Justin Villafando, who was hit by a firecracker PVI/ Paul Junel aquino

MANILA, Philippines – Some lawmakers have renewed their calls to ban the sale and use of firecrackers in the country in support of the proposal of the Department of Health (DOH) to have zero injuries in the future.

In a statement, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said a firecracker ban will accelerate the decline in New Year celebration-related injuries and air pollution levels.

“Bagama’t naging bahagi na ng ating tradisyon ang pagpapaputok tuwing Bagong Taon, walang saysay ang pagpapanatili sa mga ito kung nalalagay naman sa panganib ang ating mga kababayan, lalo na ang mga kabataan,” Gatchalian said.

The DOH on Wednesday reported at least 164 individuals sustained injuries related to fireworks since December 21, 2019 until the New Year festivities on January 1, 2020.

This figure is lower by 87 cases from the previous year’s record of 251.

Data from the DOH also revealed that the National Capital Region has recorded the most number of cases with 84, followed by CALABARZON with 13 cases.

Most of the victims were male between the ages of one and 71 years old. They sustained blasts and burns, which totaled 71 cases reported. This was followed by eye injuries with 26 cases.

Most of the injuries were due to kwitis, luces, fountain, piccolo, and baby rocket.

The DOH noted that legal firecrackers caused 69 percent of all injuries.

The agency earlier stressed that all firecrackers and fireworks, including the legal ones, can cause injuries. Banning the sale and use of these firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices can help achieve the target of zero casualty.

“Sa pagbubukas ng bagong taon, lagi nating hinihiling ang maayos na kalusugan para sa atin at sa ating mga pamilya pero paglabas ng ating mga bahay ang sumasalubong sa atin madalas ay makapal na usok. Maliban sa mga sugat, ang pangmatagalang epekto ng mga paputok ay ang iba’t ibang malubhang sakit na dulot ng maruming hangin,” Gatchalian said.

Gatchalian has filed in July 2019 Senate bill 724 or an act banning the sale, distribution and use of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices, which in effect repeals inconsistent provisions in RA 7183, an act regulating the sale, manufacture, distribution and use of firecrackers.

Under the proposed measure, entities who want to have fireworks displays need to secure a special permit from the Philippine National Police Fireworks and Explosives Office (PNP-FEO). Upon presentation of the permit, the LGU will designate an area where the fireworks display will be held.

The bill also requires technically-equipped professionals to handle the fireworks.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III also filed Senate Bill 493 or the Firecrackers Ban Act, seeking to institutionalize President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order no. 28.

The EO, which was issued in 2017, orders the limited use of firecrackers to community fireworks display as well as stricter regulation of all uncontrolled and unregulated firecrackers and similar devices.

Sotto’s bill seeks to prohibit the unsupervised use of firecrackers regardless of the occasion. It also wants to require those who want to use fireworks in designated areas to secure permits from local government units.

The bills on firecracker ban are still pending on committee level.

COVID-19 cases in PHL breach 18,000; New cases mostly from Metro Manila – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   June 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The total number of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections in the country have climbed to 18,086 with 862 new cases reported on Sunday, the Department of Health (DOH) said.

The DOH said that of the new cases, only 16 are “fresh” or those results that came out within three days while 846 are “late” or results belatedly reported.

Of the fresh cases, six are from the National Capital Region (NCR), while the remaining 10 are from other regions.

Of the late cases, 238 are from the NCR, 81 from Central Visayas, 235 are repatriates, and the remaining 292 are from other regions.

In its May 31 bulletin, the DOH noted that the fresh cases are based on the daily accomplishment reports submitted by only 15 out of 42 current operational laboratories.

“Late cases reported from May 28 to 31 are based on the validation of complete line lists from 27 laboratories and the partial line list from one laboratory. No more late cases will be reported until the remaining 14 operational labs submit their line lists,” the DOH added.

The DOH also reported seven new fatalities for May 31, bringing the total deaths to 957 while recoveries rose to 3,909.

In a virtual briefing on Sunday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire explained that the increase in reported COVID-19 cases since Friday means that its current validation process is much faster after they have completed the COVID-19 test backlogs.

“Sana ay naiintindihan niyo po na kahit mataas ang mga bagong naitatalang kaso ay hindi po ibig sabihin na lumalala ang ating situation. Nawa ay napuksa na din ang pangamba sa inyong isipan ukol sa kung tama ba ang naging desisyon na mag transition to GCQ [general community quarantine],” she said.

The DOH earlier said that one of the experts’ basis in recommending to shift Metro Manila and other areas to GCQ is the slower case doubling rate, which is now noted at seven days compared to every two days pre-quarantine period in March.

Under GCQ, more businesses and offices are allowed to resume partial operations, and more employees have been authorized to return to work, provided that minimum health standards are observed. Public transportation operations have also resumed but only at limited capacity.

The department, however, called on the public to remain vigilant and to continue observing health protocols such as physical distancing, wearing of face mask and maintaining good hygiene to curb the spread of coronavirus disease.

“Kahit nasa GCQ na tayo, hindi ito ibig sabihin na relax na rin tayo sa mga protocols natin. Sa Lunes, pagpasok ng mga may trabaho, paglabas ng bahay, huwag po kalimutang magsuot ng [face] mask, dumistansya ng isang metro sa mga katabi, magbaon ng alcohol para sa mga kamay,” Vergeire urged. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

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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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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