Mayor Sara cancels trip to Singapore

Maris Federez   •   October 4, 2021   •   332

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio on Monday confirmed that her planned trip to Singapore for personal health management set for Tuesday, October 5, is now canceled.

Mayor Sara said one of her staff who will accompany her on the trip has tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) following an RT-PCR test Monday morning.

Ang amoang byahe is na-cancel because isa sa amoang kauban didto sa mulakaw is a covid-19 positive, dili to ako. Dili nami dawaton didto sa Singapore because one of the traveller is a COVID-19 positive pag RT-PCR test namo kaganinang buntag,” Mayor Sara said.

[Our trip has been canceled because one of my companions is a COVID-19 positive. It’s not me. Singapore (authorities) will never let us in because one of the travelers is a COVID-19 positive based on our RT-PCR test this morning.]

The local chief executive, however, did not indicate whether she will re-schedule the said Singapore trip.

Mayor Sara said she has already filed a medical leave of absence for the said trip from October 5 to 8, which coincides with the period of the filing of certificates on candidacy for the 2022 national elections. —mbmf (with details from UNTV Correspondent Janice Ingente)

Pacquiao wants to remove Cusi as PDP-Laban President; Cusi-wing retaliates

Maris Federez   •   December 3, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential aspirant Senator Manny Pacquiao is gunning to unite the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) by making peace with the party members.

“Yung mga nasa Cusi Wing, susuporta sa’kin, magpapasalamat ako para ma-unite ulit yung PDP,” Pacquiao said.

But the lawmaker said, to achieve unity within the party, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi must step down as the president of the PDP-Laban Cusi-wing.

“Si Cusi tanggalin na sa officer sa PDP kung may katungkulan man siya kasi nadadamay yung mga members na iba. Kasi may vested interest siya eh. Secretary ka ng Energy. May problema pa tayo sa kuryente tapos pulitika nang pulitika. Magserbisyo ka. Maghanap ka ng paraan para mapamura mo yung singil ng kuryente,” Pacquiao pointed out.

Cusi did not comment on Pacquaio’s statement, but Atty. Melvin Matibag retaliated on his behalf.

Matibag told Pacquiao to focus on strengthening his candidacy rather than picking a fight with  someone who is not a candidate.

“Senator Pacquiao must focus on the strength of his candidacy than trying to pick a fight with a non-candidate. Secretary Cusi remains as the President of the PDP Laban,” Matibag said.

Matibag said Cusi will remain as the president of the PDP-Laban Cusi-wing after being elected by the majority of the party which was witnessed by President Rodrigo Duterte, the party’s chairman.

“He was placed there in an election presided and witnessed by President Rodrigo Duterte as Chairman of the Party,” he added.

Matibag also slammed Pacquiao’s statement which he said was “clearly misplaced and not properly thought out”.

To date, the ruling party is yet to decide whom to support as president in the 2022 national elections. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

PH gov’t tracing 253 passengers from Africa amid looming threat of Omicron

Robie de Guzman   •   December 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government is tracing and monitoring more than 200 travelers who arrived in the country from African nations in the last two weeks amid the threat of new COVID-19 variant called Omicron, the Department of Health (DOH) said Friday.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they have traced a total of 253 passengers from South Africa who arrived in the Philippines from November 15 to 29.

“BOQ has started to locate these passengers,” Vergeire said in a virtual press forum.

Of the 253 passengers, 249 were returning overseas Filipinos and four were foreigners. Authorities have traced 71 of these individuals.

The number includes three foreigners still in quarantine in Western Visayas after yielding negative test results.

Vergeire said three of these passengers initially tested positive for COVID-19. One passenger came from South Africa, another from Burkina Faso, and the other from Egypt.

She said samples of these travelers may undergo genome sequencing for variant identification.

“We are still processing the batch that we are going to subject to whole genome sequencing for this week. Results might be tonight or maybe tomorrow,” she said.

“Meron pong dumating na 253 from South Africa noong Nov. 15 to 29, may tatlo galing Burkina Faso; and mayroon 541 galing Egypt. Each of these countries nagkaroon ng isang traveler who tested positive for COVID-19,” she added.

The Philippine government banned the entry of travelers – except for Filipino repatriates – from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique, Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy until December 15 as a precautionary measure against the Omicron variant.

The DOH said the heavily mutated variant and potentially more infectious than other coronavirus variants have now been detected in 35 countries.

The variant was first discovered in South Africa.

It has been designated as a variant of concern but the World Health Organization said further studies are needed to better understand the variant’s effect on vaccines, treatment, and the virus’ transmissibility.

Pharma companies to develop drugs based on COVID-19 variant

Maris Federez   •   December 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Pharmaceutical companies are looking into developing drugs specific to each COVID-19 variant.

Health experts involved in the clinical trial of molnupiravir in the country said the oral anti-viral pill can help  fight the Omicron variant.

The Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA), however, stressed the need for extensive studies to check on the efficacy of the anti-viral pill against COVID-19.

Based on data collected in the previous clinical trial results, molnupiravir is able to prevent the condition of patients with mild or moderate COVID-19 symptoms from getting worse.

The Philippines is one of the countries that participated in the global clinical trial of molnupiravir.

According to medical experts and clinical investigators in the country, molnupiravir can help destroy COVID-19 variants of concern like the heavily mutated Omicron.

“The game changer of this pandemic or any other pandemic or any other disease in the world will always be the treatment. Kasi kapag may gamot, mas madaling i-address iyong problemang iyon,” said Dr. Benjamin Co, clinical investigator from the Asian Hospital Medical Center.

“You’re able to diagnose patients early, you are able to treat them even if they are breakthrough infections, and you are able to see patients who are exposed to those index cases,” he added.

“The mutant strains would still respond kasi doon sa core or inner mechanism nagwo-work iyong molnupiravir and not sa surface or sa superficial na spike proteins niya,” said Dr. Joel Santiaguel, clinical investigator from the Quirino Memorial Medical Center.

“Kahit magka-variation na mutation, may changes doon sa spike protein. Active pa rin ang molnupirvir mo against the virus,” he added.

The FDA also said that even the investigational drugs against COVID-19 that are currently being used are able to give relief to patients.

Nevertheless, the FDA underscored the need for in-depth studies to prove the efficacy of the new anti-COVID-19 drugs.

“Iyong mga gamot for severe COVID katulad ng mga steroid, katulad ng tocilizumab, baricitinib kapag severe case, aandar pa rin iyan sa dito sa Omicron,” FDA director-general Usec. Eric Domingo said.

“Pero hindi pa natin sigurado ang ibang gamot, itong monoclonal antibodies at mga antiviral, iyong mga bago kung magwo- work sila, as well,” the FDA chief added.

Clinical investigators invite volunteers for the one-month Phase-3 of the clinical trial for molnupiravir in the Philippines.

They must be 18 years old or older, unvaccinated, and with exposure to a COVID-19 positive person or to an Index Case.

Index cases are mostly economic or medical frontliners who expose family members when they go home.

The clinical trials will check the efficacy of molnupiravir against the Omicron variant.

Blood specimens will be collected from the participants to check the variant that an individual possesses and the effect of molnupiravir on them.

“Genotyping is very important so that we know what the variant of the individual is. Remember when this clinical trial was rolled out, the variants of concern were already rolling out in the world – si Gamma, si Beta, si Alpha, si Delta,” Dr. Co said.

“And that’s the reason why you can see how successful this drug is in addressing the concern of whether it will work or it will not work with SARS- COV2 infection. So far, ang datos po shows that it is very good drug,” he added. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

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