Immigration bureau prepares for possible influx of passengers during holidays

Robie de Guzman   •   November 25, 2021   •   303

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Thursday said it has implemented measures for the possible influx of arriving passengers in the holiday season to avoid another surge in COVID-19 cases.

During a public briefing, BI Spokesperson Dana Sandoval said these measures include prohibiting its frontline workers from filing vacation leaves to maximize their manpower during the holidays.

“Nagkaroon din po tayo ng additional na 99 Immigration officers that are deployed po sa ating mga major airports and seaports para po makatulong sa pagpapabilis po ng pagpuproseso,” she said.

Sandoval also said that the BI has reactivated the electronic gate (e-gate) system, which requires biometric scanning, with strict enforcement of health and sanitation protocols.

“[L]ahat naman po ay in place na, nakalatag na po iyong added manpower natin, iyong technologies natin nakalatag na. So, we can say po that we are ready lalo po dito sa pagdating ng upcoming holiday season,” she said.

“Mayroon din po tayong mga assigned marshals sa mga immigration areas natin who may guide po itong ating mga passengers that are arriving o kaya naman po iyong mga aalis para po sa tamang proseso,” she added.

Proper markings for the implementation of physical distancing are also in place, Sandoval said.

She also said that 75% of the BI’s manpower nationwide has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Karamihan po sa mga iyan ay iyong mga naka-deploy po sa frontline naming,” she said.

“Iyong iba po na mga hindi pa po nababakunahan, iyan po ay ini-expect po natin na makumpleto na natin iyan, by the end of the year. Usually po, ito po iyong mga nag-aantay na lang ng kani-kanilang mga schedule o kaya naman po ay mayroon pa pong medical issues na hindi pa po sila nabibigyan ng clearance for vaccine,” she added.

Sandoval said the bureau is expecting an increase in the number of inbound passengers this holiday season, particularly returning Filipinos and overseas workers.

“Sa figures po natin, iyong first three quarters po ng taon, nakita po natin na malaki ang ibinaba ng arrivals natin, nasa 72% po as compared sa last year. So, ang laki po ng difference from the pre-pandemic period, iyong total po noong pre-pandemic period nasa 17 million po iyan,” she said.

“So, ini-expect po natin na tataas po ito. Ang figures po natin last year ng December, nasa 152,000 perhaps po nasu-surpass po nito iyong total arrivals natin for this coming month,” she added.

Sandoval said the bureau of is also preparing for the possible reopening of Philippine borders to foreign travelers, particularly those who have been fully vaccinated from countries under the “green list” or those tagged as low-risk for COVID-19.

Pagbibigay ng COVID-19 vaccine boosters sa mga botika, simula na sa Enero 20

Robie de Guzman   •   January 19, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Sisimulan na sa araw ng Huwebes, Enero 20 ang pilot implementation ng programang “Resbakuna sa Botika,” na naglalayong gawin na ring COVID-19 vaccine booster sites ang ilang pharmacy at clinic sa bansa.

Ayon kay Presidential Adviser for COVID-19 response Vince Dizon, gagawin ang pilot run ng program sa limang pharmacy at dalawang private clinic sa Metro Manila.

“Bukas po, Huwebes, January 20 at sa Biyernes, January 21 magsisimula na po yung ating ‘Resbakuna sa Botika’ at sa mga iba’t-ibang mga clinics. Simula muna dito sa NCR pero mabilis nating ie-expand yan sa iba’t-ibang mga lugar lalung-lalo na sa malalaking siyudad sa bansa, Luzon, Visayas at Mindanao,” ani Dizon.

Kabilang sa mga botika at klinika na lalahok sa pilot implementation ang Mercury Drug, Watsons, the Generics Pharmacy, Generika, South Star Drug , Qualimed at Healthway.

Ngunit paalala ni Dizon, ekslusibo lang muna ang mga pasilidad na ito para sa pagbibigay ng booster shot sa mga nakakumpleto na ng primary series ng COVID-19 vaccine.

Ang mga pharmacist sa itinalagang mga botika rin ang siyang magbabakuna.

“’Yung mga pharmacists po natin ay ‘yan po ay mga qualified naman. Sila po ay dumaan na sa mga training kaya po sila ay importanteng dagdag sa ating vaccination program lalong lalo na sa kapanahunan ngayon na marami sa ating mga vaccinators sa LGU ang nagkakasakit,” ani Dizon.

Nagpahayag naman ng suporta sa program ang grupong Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP) dahil makakadadagdag ito sa pwersa ng vaccinators.

Ayon sa PHAP, sanay ang pharmacists sa pagpapatupad ng health protocols at handa naman ang kanilang mga botika upang matiyak na maiiwasan ang hawaan ng COVID-19 sa mga magpapabakuna.

Sinabi naman ni Dizon na sa ngayon ay pinag-aaralan na ng pamahalaan ang mga insentibo na maaaring ibigay sa mga pharmacist na tutulong sa pagbabakuna.

“Ngayon po yan ay pinag-uusapan po natin ngayon pero nag-volunteer rin po kasi ang mga botika rin sa kanilang serbisyo at nagpapasalamat tayo sa kanila pero paguusapan po natin with DOH kung ano ang insentibo natin sa kanila,” ang wika ng opisyal.

Una nang sinabi ng pamahalaan na 100 booster shots ang nakalaan sa bawat kalahok na pharmacy kada araw at may kabuuan namang 3,500 doses sa loob ng isang linggong pilot run.

Paalala ng mga otoridad sa publiko na kailangan pa ring magparehistro bago makapagpaturok ng booster dose sa mga botika dahil ang mga lokal na pamahalan ang mangangasiwa sa registration at documentation habang ang mga pasilidad naman ang mangangasiwa sa aktuwal na pagtuturok ng booster dose. (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Aileen Cerrudo)

PHL logs 22,958 new COVID-19 infections

Robie de Guzman   •   January 19, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines on Wednesday recorded 22,958 additional COVID-19 infections, the Department of Health (DOH) said.

In its latest data, the DOH said 21,691 of the new cases occurred within the recent 14 days, from January 6 to January 19.

The top regions that reported high cases in the last two weeks are the National Capital Region, CALABARZON, and Central Luzon.

The latest tally pushed the country’s number of active infections to 270,728. Of these cases, 8,335 are asymptomatic, 257,632 are mild, 2,970 are moderate, 1,487 are severe, and 304 are in critical condition.

The positivity rate was at 43.5 percent, based on samples of 62,531 individuals on January 17.

Six laboratories failed to submit their data on time. These facilities contribute on average 1.5 percent of samples tested and 1.9 percent of positive cases.

Recoveries increased by 36,611, resulting in 2,969,853 total recuperations.

COVID-related deaths rose to 53,044 with 82 new fatalities.

The utilization rate of intensive care unit beds nationwide was at 49 percent, and 53 percent in Metro Manila; isolation beds in the capital region at 48 percent, and 51 percent across the country.

In Metro Manila, 29 percent of ventilators are in use, and 23 percent nationwide.

PH gov’t eyeing another round of nat’l vaccination drive

Robie de Guzman   •   January 19, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government is looking to hold another mass vaccination drive against COVID-19 as the country continues to grapple with rising COVID-19 cases.

Presidential Adviser for COVID-19 response Vince Dizon said the government has started preparations while waiting for the current surge to subside.

“Hinihintay lang po natin na medyo humupa-hupa nang kaunti itong Omicron surge natin dahil alam naman po natin hirap na hirap po ang ating mga health workers, ang ating mga LGU ngayon,” he said in a public briefing.

“So papahupain lang po natin nang kaunti at magkakaroon din po tayo sa mga susunod na linggo ng bagong ‘Bayanihan Bakunahan’ o National Vaccination Days natin sa buong bansa,” he added.

The government held the first two rounds of the national vaccination drive, dubbed as “Bayanihan, Bakunahan” from November 29 to December 3, and December 15 to 22. At least 10.2 million vaccine doses were administered in the first leg, and 6.4 million in the second round.

The national government earlier said it will employ strategies to ramp up and expand vaccination efforts in the country, including the opening of more vaccination sites in smaller facilities like clinics and pharmacies.

The Philippine government is eyeing to fully vaccinate up to 77 million Filipinos in the first quarter of this year and 90 million Filipinos by the second quarter.

To date, more than 55 million individuals were already fully vaccinated since the Philippines rolled out its immunization campaign in March 2020.

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