No available COVID-19 test kits in Phl yet — FDA

Maris Federez   •   March 15, 2020   •   540

MANILA, Philippines — The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reiterated that there are no registered COVID-19 diagnostic test kits that are now available to the public yet.

In a statement issued on Sunday (March 15), the FDA said this is so “because no company has complied with the minimum set of requirements.”

The FDA added that they are only asking for a License to Operate (LTO) as a distributor and a Certificate of Product Registration (CPR) from a reliable and mature national regulatory agency (NRA) such as FDA counterparts in the United States, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Europe, among others, from those who want to import test kits.

In the absence of such, a Certificate of Prequalification or Emergency Use Listing from the World Health Organization (WHO) is also admissible.

As of Sunday, the FDA said, no company has submitted these.

The agency also denied that there is a delay in the approval of the test kits, adding that as soon as proper documents are submitted to the FDA, the certification will be immediately released.

The FDA stressed that the submission of proper documents relative to the test kits will safeguard the public interest and ensure that the available test kits for use are safe and will give useful results.

“Many companies have been marketing test kits since the start of the COVID outbreak, however, the source and reliability of these devices are yet to be verified,” the statement reads.

Director-General Eric Domingo explained, “We cannot vouch for its safety and efficacy by merely accepting the stated claims of a testing kit without the proper regulatory certification from the country of origin and a reliable NRA. These kits may give false positive and false negative results which may affect the response to this pandemic. They may also be counterfeit products that will not test for the novel coronavirus at all.”

The FDA added that the only COVID-19 diagnostic test kits used now are PCR based lab kits at the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM) which were donated by the WHO, and the University of the Philippines National Institutes of Health (UP NIH) and Department of Science and Technology (DOST) developed test kit which is scheduled to start field testing on Monday, 16 March 2020.

The FDA ensures that it is committed to staying true to its mandate of safeguarding public health.

“During these difficult times, we strongly request everybody to cooperate and to be vigilant. This is not the time to take advantage of the scarcity of resources by allowing unregulated items into the system. Let us continue to look after each other’s safety.” DG Domingo concluded. — /mbmf

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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UK PM Johnson admitted to hospital as Britain enters third week of lockdown

UNTV News   •   April 6, 2020

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was in hospital in London on Monday (April 6) suffering persistent coronavirus symptoms 10 days after testing positive for the virus, but Downing Street said he remained in charge of the government.

Johnson, 55, had been isolating in Downing Street after testing positive for the virus last month, was taken to hospital on Sunday night because he still had a high temperature and his doctors felt he needed additional tests.

Meanwhile, Britain entered its third week in lockdown with authorities warning they will have to impose further restrictions on outdoor exercise if people continued to flout rules designed to curb transmission of the virus.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was “unbelievable” to see a small minority flouting the government’s advice to maintain social-distancing.

Hancock said if people did not follow the rules, which allow people to walk, run or cycle outdoors once a day but not sunbathe, he would have to ban exercise of all forms outside the home.

He said the timetable to ease restrictions – the lockdown exit strategy – could only be agreed once the spread of the coronavirus had been brought under control.

Other European countries such as Italy and France have imposed tougher restrictions on people leaving their homes. (REUTERS CONNECT)

(Production: Gerhard Mey, Ben Makori.)

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