PUV operators ask LTFRB to remove P5,000 penalty vs drivers for not wearing facemasks while on duty

Maris Federez   •   February 19, 2020   •   447

MANILA, Philippines — Metro Manila jeepney operators asked the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to remove the P5,000.00 fine being imposed on public utility vehicles (PUV) drivers for not wearing facemasks while on transport.

Under the LTFRB memorandum circular 2020-05, drivers and operators are required to wear facemasks as part of their safety precaution against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Alliance of Concerned Transport Operators (ACTO) President Efren de Luna said they are always ready to take heed on the said measure, except that they are having difficulty finding available face masks in the market.

“Ang problema ho dun walang mabilhan, pag walang raw hong mask, may bayad ng 5000, may fine na penalty na P5,000,” de Luna said.

He pointed out that even the Department of Health has advised that due to the shortage in the supply of facemasks, priority is given to health workers and patients on its usage.

The LTFRB, on the other hand, said during the hearing at the House Committee on Transportation that it will review the said measure and will take the request into consideration. — (from the report of Vincent Arboleda) /mbmf

Global COVID-19 fight continues as curve flattens in hardest-hit European countries

UNTV News   •   April 7, 2020

The global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic continues with a glimmer of hope that some of the hardest-hit European countries have reported a reducing daily number of cases over the past weekend, suggesting a possible flattening of the curve.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the global death toll from the pandemic has climbed to 62,955 as of 18:00 CET Sunday with globally confirmed cases reaching 1,136,851.

A total of 208 countries and regions have now reported COVID-19 cases on the same day, one more than the previous day.

The United States has registered the highest number of global cases with 273,808 confirmed cases as of 18:00 EST (1000 GMT) on Sunday.

Plagued by the highly contagious disease, attitudes towards masks are changing in the country after officials from the White House and state governments have started encouraging the use of the protective gear, though U.S.President Donald Trump appeared to claim he would not personally wear one.

However, there remains a significant shortage and some people are dusting off their sewing machines to make their own, with reports that one Chicago-based dry cleaning and laundry business has started making and selling handmade masks made from leftover clothing materials.

Another concern surrounds the low inventory of testing reagents and the shortage in the number of medical staff which has forced many test points to close.

Spain has overtaken Italy to become the country with the most confirmed cases in Europe. Construction teams are working around the clock to build three more field hospitals in Valencia, Castellon and Alicante as Spain bids to contain the virus.

But there is some encouragement that the number of new cases and new deaths of COVID-19 has continued to fall for several days, according to daily data published by the Spanish Ministry for Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Services on Sunday.

A total of 6,023 new infections were registered between Saturday and Sunday, fewer than the 7,026 new cases in the previous 24 hours and 7,472 between Thursday and Friday, bringing the country’s total cases to 130,759.

The situation is also showing signs of progress in Italy. The one-day COVID-19 death toll showed its smallest increase in nearly three weeks during past weekend and the number of hospitalized patients declined, according to Angelo Borrelli, head of Italy’s Civil Protection Department said Sunday.

The confirmed cases in Italy stood at 124,632 as of 18:00 EST (1000 GMT) on Sunday, while the overall death toll was 15,362.

Italy is considering moving to “phase two” of emergency with the falling trend in new infections.

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Germany climbed to 91,714 as of 18:00 EST (1000 GMT) Sunday, with a total death toll of 1,342, according to the WHO.

Meanwhile, the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) on Sunday called on the federal government to introduce a second aid package to support the economy, according to the German Press Agency (DPA).

In several German cities, police have moved to enforce social distancing rules as some ventured out to enjoy the spring weather outdoors over the weekend. German media group Focus Online reported that security officers and police in Dusseldorf dissolved a crowd of around 200 people on the Rhine on Sunday in order to maintain the necessary distance between people.

While the total coronavirus fatalities in France swelled to 7,546 as of 18:00 EST (1000 GMT) Sunday, the number of critically-ill patients in the country has been increasing less rapidly.

French authorities on Sunday warned that the virus “continues to hit hard,” urging people to continue to respect the confinement protocols. Warm spring weather had incited some Parisians to head out, defying a lockdown imposed in mid-March to stem the virus spread.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday that the existing restrictions imposed to curb the COVID-19 spread in the country would be eased gradually in the following weeks, the official IRNA news agency reported.

WHO data shows that by 18:00 EST (1000 GMT) Sunday, Iran had 58,226 confirmed cases and an overall death toll of 3,452.

Low-risk businesses will resume their activities from April 11 in different provinces except Tehran, with the capital city set to resume one week later on April 18, Rouhani said. Two thirds of all government employees will return to work in offices from April 11.

Meanwhile, there was concern in the UK as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to hospital for tests on Sunday after suffering persistent coronavirus symptoms 10 days after testing positive for the virus. Downing Street underscored that this was not an emergency admission and that Johnson remains in charge of the government.

On the same day, Queen Elizabeth II delivered a rare television address to Britain and nations around the world, with the long-reigning monarch urging people to rise to the challenge of the COVID-19 outbreak.

In Asia, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is planning to declare a state of emergency over the coronavirus outbreak, due to the recent surging COVID-19 cases in Tokyo and other large cities, government sources said Monday.

As of 18:00 EST (1000 GMT) Sunday, the total confirmed cases in Japan reached 3,271, with an overall death toll of 70.

Singapore has launched a mobile app to help track potential cases and control community spread of the coronavirus as it saw its case numbers hit 1,309 on Sunday.

On Sunday, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Manpower said in a joint statement that transmissions within Singapore’s foreign worker dormitories had continued to rise, and the city state was seeing more confirmed cases and ill workers.

As a result, two dormitories had been declared as isolation areas, with on-site medical support deployed and food and essential supplies provided, according to the statement.

The Singapore Government has announced that most workplaces will be shut down and many food establishments would be closed for a month from Tuesday as part of the so-called ‘circuit breaker’ measures designed to stop the the spread of COVID-19. (REUTERS CONNECT)

Swiss graffiti artist pays tribute to frontline worker ‘super-heroes’

UNTV News   •   April 7, 2020

Swiss artist David Perez alias “S.I.D.” paid tribute on Sunday (April 5), to the “everyday super-heroes” working on the frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic, by painting a giant portrait representing a cashier on Gland town’s walls.

“Today, I will especially pay tribute to cashiers. They are on the frontline with nurses and others. So, it is for our everyday super-heroes”, the 35 years-old graffiti artist told Reuters.

All the residents of the Swiss town of Gland, located between Lausanne and Geneva, who pass through this underground tunnel can also admire a portrait of a nurse that SID did two weeks ago.

A few meters away, there is now a cashier wearing a mask and scanning a bottle of liquid soap, which took the artist 5 hours to make.

“The symbolic is very strong and this is really beautiful”, said local resident Coline Bovet, who was on a walk with her husband and had the surprise to find SID at work.

The cashier was modelled by one of SID’s friends, 25 years old Manuela Perrone, who does not work at a supermarket but just wanted to pay tribute to workers in contact with the public and possible contamination.

On the bottle of soap that the cashier is holding, the artist wrote “thank you”.

SID said he plans to draw other giant portraits of workers in the coming weeks, such as construction workers or garbage collectors. (REUTERS CONNECT)

(Production: Cecile Mantovani and Denis Balibouse)

PNP to implement 50-50 work scheme due to COVID-19

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 6, 2020

The Philippine National Police (PNP) will implement a 50-50 work scheme among personnel who are based at the national headquarters in Camp Crame.

This is due to the rising number of PNP personnel who have become patients under investigation (PUI) and persons under monitoring (PUM) of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) threat.

The 50-50 work scheme would use 50 percent or the first batch of personnel to go on duty at the administrative office until April 19 while the second batch will go on duty from April 20 to May 3.

According to a memorandum issued on April 4, the heads of offices/units with essential functions shall determine the work scheme applicable to the personnel, as long as they should observe a 14-day self-quarantine/isolation as part of the PNP’s health protocol.

“Maaaring magpatupad sila ng kani-kanilang scheduling para hindi naman maapektuhan ang ating normal functions,” said PNP Spokesperson Bernard Banac.

Meanwhile, police personnel who are aged 45 years old and above will have to be pulled out from the checkpoint areas.

“Mas vulnerable sila sa COVID-19 (They are more vulnerable to COVID-19),” Banac said.

The PNP will also launch Admin Support to COVID-19 Task Force (ASCoTF) to ensure an organized and speedy logistics, response, and development of frontliners.

The PNP has already recorded 19 police personnel that tested positive for COVID-19 with two deaths.

The total number of persons under monitoring (PUMs) in the PNP has already reached more than 1,300. — AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

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