Pasay City mayor open to possible city-wide ECQ to curb rising COVID-19 cases

Robie de Guzman   •   March 4, 2021   •   420

MANILA, Philippines – Pasay City Mayor Emi Calixto-Rubiano on Thursday said she will not object should the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) decide to place the entire city under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) due to the rise in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases.

In an online media briefing, Rubiano said the city government is doing its best to contain the surge in COVID-19 cases.

She added that they have already looked into the idea of placing the city under ECQ upon learning of the detection of the more contagious COVID-19 variant, initially reported in South Africa in Pasay.

Rubiano, however, noted that placing Pasay City under ECQ will have an impact on the entire National Capital Region since the city is considered as a travel hub.

“Ang impact kasi ay nasa entire NCR dahil nakita niyo po at siyempre sa country na rin dahil nandidito po sa amin ang airport, MRT, LRT,” she said.

“Travel hub po kami at yung domestic air travel will be cancelled while international travel will be restricted,” she added.

Meanwhile, Rubiano confirmed that four residents of Pasay have tested positive for the new COVID-19 variant but all of them have already recovered.

The mayor also said that the patients were under quarantine when results of their tests came out.

“Yes po, recovered na pero inuulit po namin ang kanilang swab nang makasigurado po tayo. Na-isolate po namin agad sila pati po na-contact trace,” she said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Janice Ingente)

Angel Locsin apologizes after senior citizen died while waiting in community pantry

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Actress Angel Locsin on Friday (April 23) apologized after a senior citizen died while waiting in line at the community pantry in Quezon City.

The actress admitted they were not able to control the huge crowd that waited in line.

She said the community pantry was supposed to open at 10:00 a.m. but they had to open a bit early as the volume of people who want to benefit from the community pantry began to rise.

There were also individuals who did not have a stub and, yet, cut in line.

Hindi lang po talaga nila ma-control ang mga tao. Hindi po ito ang gusto ko, nagsimula po kami ng maayos ang aming layunin pati ang pagpaplano ng social distancing nagkataon lang po talaga siguro na gutom lang po talaga na kahit wala pa sa pila sumingit na. Sa mga nagambala ko po dito pasensya na po hindi po ito ang intensyon ko (We were not able to control the crowd. This is not what I wanted, we started off good and we planned it out including the social distancing. It just so happends that there were a lot of people in need that they had to cut in line. To those I inconvenienced, I apologize. It was not my intention),” she said.

The senior citizen, 67-year-old Rolando Dela Cruz, fainted while he was in line in the community pantry. He was rushed to the hospital but was declared dead on arrival.

Barangay Holy Spirit Captain Chito Valmocina expressed concern over the lack of coordination between the local authorities and Locsin’s personnel.

Ang request nga nila dalawang tanod lang. Alas-dose na hindi pa natatapos ang 300 tsaka pa nila sinabi na talagang hanggang 300 lang (They only requested two barangay tanods. It was already 12:00 noon, they still were not done serving 300 [beneficiaries] when they said they will only accommodate 300 people),” Valmocina said.

Meanwhile, the Quezon City local government said they are ready to provide financial aid to the relatives of Dela Cruz.

The local government added that it still supports community pantries; however, the health and safety protocols should still be followed and organizers should fully coordinate with the local government to avoid a similar incident. AAC (with reports from Janice Ingente)

OCTA urges PH gov’t not to lift MECQ in NCR+ just yet

Robie de Guzman   •   April 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – COVID-19 restrictions being enforced in the National Capital Region (NCR) and nearby provinces should not be eased yet despite the declining spread of the viral respiratory disease, the OCTA Research Group said Friday.

OCTA Research Fellow Nicanor Austriaco said the NCR’s current reproduction number is at 0.98 from April 16 to 22.

He stressed that the less than one reproduction number should be sustained for several weeks before lifting the community quarantine restrictions.

“You have to sustain the R below one for at least several weeks, and this will take a careful planning with the length of the MECQ,” Austriaco said in an online briefing.

“We urge the national government, as one possible benchmark for changing quarantine levels, is not to exit the MECQ until at least the R is less than .9 in a sustained manner,” he added.

OCTA noted that the average daily cases in the NCR in the past seven days are now at 4,200 compared to 5,200 cases recorded two weeks ago.

However, Austriaco said this is still “somewhat unstable” because not all local government units in the NCR have reported decreasing cases.

“You always have the possibilities that as some LGUs recover, there will be an outbreak in one LGU that will spill over to the adjacent LGUs,” he said.

“We are looking for a consistent pattern of decrease throughout all the 17 LGUs for a significant period of time before we know we have successfully passed through the surge,” he added.

Austriaco also emphasized that hospitals also need to be decongested before restrictions can be further eased.

“How fast we decongest our hospitals depends upon he sustained reproduction number that we are able to maintain in the next few weeks,” he said.

The NCR and four provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, and Laguna have been placed under modified enhanced community quarantine until April 30.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said that the government is not yet satisfied with the current decline in cases.

It also remains unclear on whether the MECQ in the NCR Plus will be lifted or extended after April 30 as the Inter-Agency Task Force is still evaluating the current COVID-19 situation in the country before it submits a recommendation to President Rodrigo Duterte. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

DOLE to hire 1,000 additional contact tracers for Metro Manila

Marje Pelayo   •   April 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will hire up to 6,000 contact tracers to help in the government’s response against COVID-19.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that from the initial 4,000 recruits, the government is now planning to hire 1,000 additional  contact tracers for Metro Manila.

Bello said DOLE  has allotted an additional P65 million for the mass hiring, bringing the program’s total budget to P295 million.

The official explained that such augmentation is necessary as the demand for contact tracers especially in Metro Manila has been high.

“Kailangang-kailangan talaga ng ating mga contact tracer lalong lalo na dito sa NCR at saka sa apat na bubble,” Bello said.

As of Thursday (April 22), the number of applicants for the position has reached more than 10,000.

Bello said training for the contact tracers will begin on Monday (April 26). Accepted applicants will start their duty on May 1.

Each contact tracer will receive a monthly salary of P16,000 or up to P45,000 for three months. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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