It’s ‘work as usual’ for IATF top officials despite testing positive for COVID-19

Marje Pelayo   •   April 1, 2020   •   575

MANILA, Philippines – Two of the top officials of the Interagency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF) were confirmed positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

On Wednesday (March 31), Interior Secretary Eduardo Año received the confirmation from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).

He has been in isolation since March 26 and did swab testing the following day.

He opted for self-quarantine as four of his recent acquaintances tested positive for the disease.

Before Año, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Felimon Santos Jr. was announced positive for COVID-19.

He has since undergone strict home quarantine procedures.

Both officials are members of the implementing body of the government’s national action plan against COVID-19.

Despite their conditions, IATF Spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said their operation will continue as usual.

“Nakikita naman ninyo na kahit kami sa gobyerno ay hindi po immune dito sa COVID-19. Meron pong mga may matataas na opisyal po na tinamaan na, [As you can see, even us in the government are not immune to this COVID-19. We have high-ranking officials who have been affected,]” Nograles noted.

Pero, rest assured na tuluy-tuloy pa po ang trabaho ng gobyerno, [But rest assured we in the government will continue working,]” he added.

Secretary Año vows to continue working while under home quarantine.

Other IATF officials like Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Philippine National Police (PNP) General Archie Gamboa tested negative for COVID-19.

Still, Lorenzana opted to finish his self-quarantine procedure until April 6.

Meanwhile, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rolando Bautista also opted for self-quarantine. MNP (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Duterte on reopening the economy: ‘We cannot afford to gamble’

Marje Pelayo   •   July 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The country is not yet ready to fully reopen its economy, according to President Rodrigo Duterte.

The Chief Executive said the government is doing the process gradually, otherwise the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections would spike that could lead to a bigger problem.

He said he cannot follow the example of other countries because the Philippines does not have as much resources if the situation gets worse.

“Tayong pobre we cannot afford really a total epidemic or pandemonium. Mahirap tayo. Hindi tayo puwedeng sumugal (As a poor country, we cannot afford really a total epidemic or pandemonium. We are poor. We cannot afford to gamble),” the President said during his public address on Tuesday evening (July 7).

President Duterte cited situations in the United States and Brazil where despite being powerful and wealthy, are not spared from the impact of the pandemic.

“Although they opened their economy for money to come into the government coffers, there was a spike. They were having a problem of almost a relapse — in the totality of the number,” he added.

Meanwhile, the President expressed doubts that the country has entered the second wave of COVID-19 outbreak.

“Now we do not even know if the number of 34, 178 of active cases is still a part of the first wave or have we arrived at the second wave. I don’t think so. We are still grappling with the first wave,” he argued.

He urged Filipinos to obey strict health protocols and have more patience as the government works to combat the pandemic.

Mga kababayan ko, ako mismo gusto ko nang lumabas. Ayoko nang magpapigil. Kung gusto ko nga makipag-away na ako. Ang problema iyon ang gusto ko, pero ang gusto ko ay hindi makakabuti sa ating lahat,” he said.

(My fellow countrymen, I personally I want to go out. I don’t want to be barred from doing so. I am even ready to fight over this. The problem is, what I want is not good for everyone.)

“We have to be very circumspect in reopening the economy. Dahan-dahan lang (Let’s do it gradually), because if you open the entire Philippines and thousands upon thousands of new cases would happen, then we are in deep s***. Talagang mahirapan tayo (We will seriously struggle),” he said. MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

New York City schools to reopen with in-class, remote learning, mayor says

UNTV News   •   July 9, 2020

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday (July 8) unveiled a plan for reopening the country’s largest school system in September with a “blended learning” schedule that would have students alternating between classrooms and their homes.

“So many New Yorkers desperately need to get back to work. For a lot of people, that means they have to get back to a workplace and they need to know that their kids will be safe and secure, getting a chance to be educated much more deeply,” de Blasio told reporters during news conference.

De Blasio said the city’s rate of positive COVID-19 tests was at 1%, the lowest level it has reached since the coronavirus epidemic began. (Reuters)

(Production: Catherine Koppel)

Pampanga to return to ECQ if spike in COVID-19 cases continues, governor warns

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 8, 2020

Pampanga Governor Dennis Pineda warned of reverting the province to enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) if the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases continues to rise.

“Tumaas po ang mga kaso natin. I have no choice kung hindi ibalik sa GCQ ito o ECQ kung aabot tayo sa worst situation (Cases in our province increased. I have no choice but to revert to GCQ or ECQ if the situation worsens),” he said.

After the province was placed under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) on June 15, new COVID-19 cases went up by 25. As of July 7, according to the Provincial Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit, there are 166 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Pampanga, with 100 recoveries and 16 deaths.

Only Arayat and Masantol, Pampanga remain COVID-19-free, the Pampanga governor said. He reminds residents to only leave the house if necessary.

“Hindi po sinasabi ng MGCQ na libre kayo na makipagkwentuhan sa ibang lugar (Just because it’s MGCQ, it doesn’t mean you are free to meet up in other places),” he said.

Barangay Capalangan and Sulipan in Apalit are currently under hard lockdown until July 16 due to the surge of COVID-19 cases in the area. AAC (with reports from Leslie Huidem)

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