Manila distributes 4th tranche of food box assistance under COVID-19 Food Security Program

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 10, 2021   •   307

MANILA, Philippines—The Manila Local Government Unit (LGU) has begun the distribution of the fourth tranche of food box assistance under the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Food Security Program (FSP).

The distribution, through the joint efforts of the city’s Department of Public Services, Department of Engineering and Public Works, and the Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau, began on May 8.

The target beneficiaries are about 700,000 families living in Manila. As of May 9 at 5:00 p.m., 139,000 food boxes have already been distributed to 122 barangays in District 1.

Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso said the program aims to ease the public’s economic burden amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ito ay iyong pinasa naming batas, sa tulong ni Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna at mga konsehal noong Disyembre, upang ibsan ang inyong mga tustusin buwan-buwan at para lumaki naman ang inyong savings. Dahil sa epekto ng inflation or hirap ng buhay ng tao, nagmamahal ang produkto, hindi naman tumataas ang sweldo (This is the law we enacted with the help of Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna and the councilors in December to ease the monthly expenses and for families to increase their savings. Due to inflation or life’s difficulties, price of commodities increase but the salary is still the same),” he said.

Around P3-billion have already been allocated since the implementation of the FSP in February, wherein three kilos of rice, 16 pieces of canned goods, and eight sachets of coffee will be packed and distributed to Manila residents. The program will continue until July this year. AAC

Manila hospital security guard shot dead by patient

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—A security guard at Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center in Manila was shot dead by a patient on Monday (June 22).

Santa Cruz Police Station Commander P.Lt.Col. John Guiagui said the incident started when security guard Arturo Budlong Jr. accosted patient Mark Anthony Carlo Galivo for repeatedly attempting to escape from the hospital.

It escalated into an argument during which Galivo snatched Budlong’s gun and fatally shot him in the stomach.  Galivo locked himself inside the hospital’s morgue and engaged in a shootout with police.

“Iyong pasyente na naka-confine doon sa Jose Reyes Hospital at iyon nga, nangyari kasi sinasasaway niya itong huwag palaging lumalabas doon sa confinement niya,” he said.

(The patient was confined at Jose Reyes Hospital. What happened was the security guard was reminding the patient not to leave confinement.)

The patient eventually surrendered to authorities after sustaining gunshot wounds in the leg and stomach.

Barangay 428 chairman Teddy Isla said Galivo, who worked as a kagawad, is a kind man.  However, his co-workers noticed a change in his behavior during the past few days. Galivo was sent to the hospital after attempting to take his own life. AAC (with reports from Asher Cadapan Jr.)

Israeli experts visit PH COVID-19 vaccination, storage sites

Robie de Guzman   •   June 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – A team of health experts from Israel on Wednesday visited some vaccination sites and cold chain storage facilities in Metro Manila as part of the efforts to assess and help the Philippine government improve its strategies in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The team of Israeli experts inspected a vaccination hub set up at the Solaire Theater in Parañaque City for the private sector, as well as some cold storage facilities being used in the government’s vaccination program.

They were accompanied by Inter-Agency Task Force and Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, National Task Force against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., testing czar Vince Dizon and other government officials.

Roque said the team of experts from Israel is in the country to share their strategies and methods in fighting the pandemic, as well as addressing vaccine hesitancy.

“We need to learn from Israel kasi Israel successfully achieved containment [of the coronavirus] and we want to learn from what they did to achieve containment,” he said.

Galvez earlier said that the Israeli delegation’s visit aims to help the government develop more improved strategies on data management, deployment methods, and transition to new normal.

The NTF and Israeli experts initially met at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City on Monday to discuss vaccination and jab logistics management.

Galvez said that so far, the team has shared key strategies to effectively contain virus transmission and reduce active cases within communities.

Roque said a press conference dedicated for the Israeli visitors will be held on Thursday where they can share their observations and recommendations on the Philippines’ vaccination drive.

The Philippine government would adopt some Israeli strategies to further improve the country’s vaccine deployment and data management, he added.

“Ang talagang gusto nilang makita is how we actually implementing the vaccination which is ongoing right now… Alam nyo naman sa Israel wala na ngayong mask in public places dahil mayroon na silang containment, mayroon na silang population protection that’s why they are here as our guest and as our resource person because we want to achieve that state,” Roque said.

The delegation from the Israeli Ministry of Health has been in the Philippines for four days now. They arrived last Sunday and will stay until Friday, June 25. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Janice Ingente)

NCR now low risk for COVID-19; 4 regions at high risk — DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   June 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The National Capital Region (NCR) is now categorized as a low-risk area for COVID-19 amid a decreasing number of infections, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Wednesday.

In an online press briefing, DOH Epidemiology Bureau director Dr. Alethea De Guzman said Metro Manila has been exhibiting a declining virus growth rate in the past two weeks.

“Para po sa NCR, siya po ay na-classify na po ngayon natin at low risk dahil nagpakita siya ng pagbaba ng kaso by 23% in the last 2 weeks,” De Guzman said.

She said that from June 16 to 22, the NCR averaged 685 new cases daily, which is lower than its average of 825 cases from June 9 to 15.

The region’s average daily attack rate (ADAR) was logged at 5.7 cases per 100,000, hospital occupancy rate at 36.29 percent, and intensive care unit utilization rate at 45.83 percent.

Among the NCR Plus 8 areas, Laguna has yet to show a decline in cases, De Guzman said, as she noted that Calabarzon province is still exhibiting a plateau of COVID-19 cases.

The NCR was once the epicenter of COVID-19 in the Philippines.

“Kung dati nakikita natin na ang NCR ang number 1, in the last few days, it’s region CALABARZON as well as the inclusion of regions and areas from Visayas and Mindanao,” De Guzman said.

In Luzon, De Guzman said, almost all areas have exhibited declining cases except for the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).

“For Luzon naman po, lahat ng mga lugar ay nagpapakita ng pagbaba ng kaso liban po sa CAR… parang halos flat po ang kaniyang linya,” she said.

While the NCR is now low-risk for COVID-19, four other regions have been flagged as high-risks after showing an increase in cases and bed occupancy rates.

These are Caraga, Regions 6, 11, and 12.

The average daily attack rate (ADAR) of coronavirus in Caraga is at 9.95 cases per 100,000, Region 6 at 8.83, Region 11 at 8.16, and Region 12 at 7.01.

De Guzman said that all four regions logged positive two-week case growth rates while Region 11’s ICU utilization rate was at high or critical risk.

Other areas where ICU occupancy rates have also reached the critical risk classification were Regions 2, 6, 10, and 12.

Nationwide, the trend of COVID-19 cases is showing signs of decline but De Guzman said there is still a need to reduce the number of daily cases as the current figure is still far from the pre-surge levels.

“Although we are happy that these numbers are going down, it is still far from our pre-spike levels of less than 2,000 cases per day nationally,” she said.

She urged the public to help reduce infections by following health protocols such as the proper wearing of face masks and observing physical distancing.

The implementation of the Prevent, Detect, Isolate, Treat, Reintegrate (PDITR) response at the community level should also be intensified, as well as the contact tracing and vaccination efforts. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

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