Houses sealed off in Verl, Germany after meat factory virus outbreak

UNTV News   •   June 24, 2020   •   537

A residential area in the town of Verl was sealed off on Tuesday (June 23) and its residents put into compulsory quarantine after a coronavirus outbreak at a meatpacking plant nearby.

As a fence was set up surrounding the area, some residents were tested by medical staff outside their buildings while others watched from their windows and were handed toys and wet wipes by staff on the other side of the fence.

Verl mayor Michael Esken said it was the only solution he could come up with given that many plant employees live side by side with neighbours who work elsewhere, increasing the risk of contagion for the whole community.

Earlier, the premier of the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia Armin Laschet said he was putting the entire Guetersloh district, where Verl is located, back into lockdown until June 30.

Guetersloh, with about 360,000 residents, is the first area in Germany to reintroduce a lockdown after the authorities began gradually lifting restrictive measures at the end of April.

Also on Tuesday, the head of the Robert Koch Institute for public health, Lothar Wieler, said local outbreaks had been a major factor behind a spike in the last few days in the coronavirus reproduction rate, currently estimated at 2.76.

A reproduction rate, or ‘R’, of 2.76 means that 100 people who have contracted the virus infect, on average, 276 others. (Reuters)

(Production: Erol Dogrudogan, Elena Gyldenkerne)

UK, Germany requesting more health workers from the Philippines

Marje Pelayo   •   February 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has increased the demand for health workers all over the world.

In the Philippines, the national government put in place a deployment cap of 5,000 health workers for 2021 to make sure that the country will have a sufficient number in case the COVID-19 infection worsens.

But the governments of the United Kingdom and Germany appealed to the Philippines to deploy more health workers given that the country is one of the top exporters of this field and expertise.

According to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), there is an ongoing negotiation on this request.

The Philippine government, however, has several conditions before approving the matter.

One is that the requesting countries, in return, should give the Philippines COVID-19 vaccines.

“Ang nire-request ni Secretary Bello ay para sa ating mga OFWs. So ito ang mga OFWs na na-repatriate na dito including yung mga OFWs din na papaalis,” explained DOLE Director for International Labor Affairs Alice Visperas.

The official said there are around 600,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were repatriated and some of them were redeployed.

“Karamihan sa mga bansa ngayon na kumukuha ng workers. Gusto nila may vaccine na yung kukunin nilang workers. Darating din ang panahon baka hindi na sila kukuha pag hindi pa nabibigyan ng vaccine,” Visperas noted.

Another condition is the renegotiation for Labor agreement in favor of OFWs in the said countries.

DOLE said the matter is now on the ministerial level and is, so far, receiving a possible response.

But the Filipino Nurses United seemed offended with the way the government is treating the country’s nurses.

“Sa FNU na turn off kmi, disgusted na parang commodities o export products trato sa amin ng gobyerno,” the group said in a statement.

“Two separate issues iyon. Kung gustong mag-abroad ng nurses karapatan nila iyon. Huwag gamiting trade off. Kung kailangan natin ng bakuna, mag procure,” it added.

The Philippine Nurses Association, on the other hand, supports the government on the matter but as for the number, there should be a careful study first as to how many nurses will be allowed to leave.

“Kung manggagaling yan sa government and merong benefit ang Pilipinas with that I think we should welcome yung idea,” noted PNA President Melbert Reyes.

“But it should make sure sana na may maiiwan dito sa Pilipinas to take care of our people,” he concluded. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

PH declares temporary import ban on pigs from Germany

Marje Pelayo   •   September 12, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Saturday (September 12) announced a temporary ban on the importation of domestic and wild pigs, pork products, and by-products from Germany.

In a press release, the agency explained that the ban was imposed after the confirmation of the first case of African Swine Fever (ASF) in Schenkendöbern, Spree-Neiße, Brandenburg, affecting wild boar, as confirmed by Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut (National laboratory). 

The import ban followed a report submitted by chief veterinary officer, Dr. Dietrich Rassow of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture in Berlin, to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), on September 10, 2020. 

Likewise, Agriculture Secretary William Dar also issued an immediate suspension of the processing and evaluation of the application and issuance of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) import clearance to domestic and wild pigs, pork products, and by-products from Germany.

Following the announcement of the temporary import ban, all shipments of pigs, pork, and pork products from Germany into the Philippines will be confiscated by all DA-Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) veterinary quarantine officers at all major ports of entry, the DA said.

Vietnam to evacuate 80,000 people from Danang after virus outbreak

UNTV News   •   July 28, 2020

Vietnam is evacuating 80,000 people, mostly local tourists, from the central tourism hot spot of Danang on Monday (July 27) after three residents tested positive for the coronavirus on the weekend, the government said.

The Southeast Asian country is back on high alert after the government on Saturday (July 25) confirmed its first community infections since April, and another three cases on Sunday (July 26), all in and around Danang.

The evacuation will take at least four days with domestic airlines operating approximately 100 flights daily from Danang to 11 Vietnamese cities, the government said in a statement.

Vietnam has imposed strict quarantine measures and carried out an aggressive and widespread testing programme during the pandemic, keeping its total tally of reported infections to just 420, with no deaths. =

Vietnam is still closed to foreign tourism, but saw a surge in domestic travellers looking to take advantage of discounted flights and holiday packages for local hotels and resorts. Those arriving from Danang to other parts of the country would be required to quarantine at home for 14 days, the health ministry said. Following the discovery of the new cases, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc ordered police to step up a crackdown on illegal immigration to the country.

State media on Sunday said police in Danang had arrested a 42-year-old Chinese man it said was the head of a criminal group which helps people illegally enter Vietnam from China.

Authorities have not officially linked the new cases in Danang to illegal immigration. The government said in a separate statement on Monday that authorities in Ha Giang province, which borders China, had caught more than 1,500 people illegally crossing into the province since May. Most of those caught were Vietnamese citizens, the statement said, and were quarantined. (Reuters)

(Production: Minh Nguyen)

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