Metro Manila residents enjoy change in environment, lifestyle under ECQ

Maris Federez   •   March 25, 2020   •   397

MANILA, Philippines — Residents in the National Capital Region (NCR) have noticed a significant improvement in the quality of the air in the metropolis.

The smoke being emitted by factories and transport vehicles and the traffic congestion that have become the norm in the lives of Metro Manila residents have lessened since the Luzon region was placed under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

The said measure was instituted to address the threats of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) that continues to spread in Metro Manila and several parts of Luzon.

The ECQ has also changed the lifestyle of Metro Manila residents, as some have learned the benefits of walking to their destinations and buying only the essential things for themselves and their families.

The suspension of all types of public transportation has paved the way for the air to clear and for the traffic to decongest.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said the air quality or particulate matter 10 has significantly changed.

“Ngayon kung titingnan natin nag a-average tayo from good to fair so napakaganda, nakapakaganda nung air quality natin ngayon,” said DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda.

PM10 or the “inhalable particles”, are particles equal to or smaller than 10 microns (PM10) that can reach the throat and the lungs.

A UNTV Drone shot presented a smog-free skyline of Manila and Bonifacio Global City in Taguig as compared to the previous pollution that was once visible in the said places.

The environment department believes that the suspension of public transportation and the reduced number of private vehicles traveling have done the environment a big favor.

“Visually kita natin talagang ang laki mula sa umaga wala yung smog na nakikita natin na akala mo pa ay ma-fog yung buong NCR pero yun pala ay polusyon yun,” Antiporda added.

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has also observed that crime and accidents have considerably decreased in Metro Manila and in Region 3 after the enhanced community quarantine was implemented in the entire Luzon.

According to PNP spokesperson, PBGen. Bernard Banac, the crime rate in Luzon had gone down by 80 percent.

“In fact bumaba po ng almost eighty percent ang crime rate hindi lamang dito sa kalakhang Maynila maging sa region at iba pang dako ng Luzon,” Banac said.

Banac added that the latest PNP record shows that road accidents since the ECQ was put in place until March 24 totaled to only 81, a considerably low number compared to the average 50 per day on ordinary days. — (with details from Dante Amento) /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)

Duterte ‘inclined to extend’ Luzon lockdown to April 30

Marje Pelayo   •   April 7, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Luzon residents may have to endure two more weeks at home as President Rodrigo Duterte considers extending the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

In his public address on Monday evening (April 6), the President asked the public for more patience and understanding and to be more cooperative with the national government in the face of a health crisis brought about by the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“We are inclined to extend the lockdown up to April 30,” the Chief Executive announced.

Tingnan natin after that [Let’s see after that]. In the meantime, double time kami,” he added.

The President, likewise, reiterated his call for the public to stay at home as the solution to this global pandemic is simply to “not get infected.”

He noted the sad reality of COVID-19 patients passing without having a funeral service as their remains go straight to cremation.

Duterte admitted that even the national government is getting ‘desperate’ as it has limited resources to distribute to millions of Filipinos affected by the crisis.

The President added that the P275-B budget that Congress authorized him to spend is not enough and would be gone in two months.

Thus, he asked the Department of Finance to find ways to generate revenues.

“We are finding ways to adjust the budget. We will prioritize the people, the stomach. If they have nothing to eat, a human being can become violent,” he added.

He appealed to those who have more to give to those in need and asked the Filipino people to pray for the country and the world in the face of this global pandemic.

“I am calling on the nation to come together and pay tribute to the indomitable spirit of the Filipino and unite in one prayer to God to fight our common enemy,” he concluded. MNP (with input from Rosalie Coz)

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