PCG remains on heightened alert as Typhoon Kiko threatens Northern Luzon

Robie de Guzman   •   September 10, 2021   •   487

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) remains on heightened alert to provide immediate assistance to residents who may be affected by the possible onslaught of Typhoon Kiko (international name: Chanthu).

In a statement, the PCG said it has coordinated with local government units and disaster management offices in areas that are on the direct path of ‘Kiko’.

In the 11 a.m. bulletin, the state weather bureau said ‘Kiko’ has slightly intensified as it continues to creep closer to extreme northern Luzon.

The typhoon was last spotted at 220 kilometers northeast of Casiguran, Aurora or east of Tuguegarao, Cagayan. It is packing maximum sustained winds of 195 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center, and gustiness of up to 240 kph.

Tropical Cyclone Wind Signal (TCWS) No. 3 is hoisted over the extreme northeastern portion of Cagayan and the eastern part of Babuyan Islands.

TCWS No. 2 is raised over Batanes, the rest of Babuyan Islands, the remaining eastern portion of mainland Cagayan, the northeastern portion of Isabela, and the northeastern part of Apayao.

Meanwhile, TCWS No. 1 is up over the rest of mainland Cagayan, the eastern portion of Ilocos Norte, the rest of Apayao, the northern portion of Kalinga, eastern pat of Mountain Province, the northeastern portion of Abra, the northwestern and southeastern portions of Isabela and the northern portion of Aurora.

PCG commandant Vice Admiral Leopoldo Laroya has directed the PCG District Northeastern Luzon and Northwestern Luzon to ensure that their deployable response groups and quick response teams are all-set for swift evacuation and rescue operations, most especially in flood-prone residential communities in Batanes, Cagayan, and Northern Isabela.

“We learned so much during our operations amid Typhoon Ulysses last year that left major damages in the Cagayan Valley region. Aside from training our people and increasing our assets, we also partnered with LGUs so that even ordinary citizens are equipped with basic skills in ensuring the safety of lives in times of natural calamities and emergencies,” Laroya said.

“The PCG cannot do it on its own. We need the support of our stakeholders and the general public to lessen, if not prevent, the loss of lives during typhoon season,” he added.

Major commands at the PCG National Headquarters have also been instructed to prepare their assets and preposition their teams to immediately assist districts that may need augmentation.

PCG personnel of concerned Coast Guard districts have also reminded fishermen and other mariners to avoid venturing the sea during inclement weather conditions for their safety.

This is following reports of distressed fishermen in the Western and Eastern Visayas regions after residents went on fishing ventures despite the suspension due to Tropical Storm Jolina.

“Nauunawaan natin ang ating mga kababayan na sinusuong ang sama ng panahon para may makain ang kanilang pamilya,” Laroya said.

“Pero, hiling po namin ay iprayoridad ng ating mga mangingisda ang kanilang kaligtasan dahil sa oras na may kapahamakang mangyari sa kanila sa gitna ng dagat, ay lalong hihirap ang sitwasyon ng maiiwan nilang pamilya,” he added.

The PCG Auxiliary (PCGA) has also been alerted to prepare for relief operations and other humanitarian missions in areas that will be most affected by the typhoon, the agency said.

Typhoon Kiko is seen to bring heavy to intense rains in parts of Cagayan, Ilocos, Cordillera Administrative Region, Aurora and Cagayan Valley which may trigger flooding and landslides in areas susceptible to these hazards.

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.

Over 90 million COVID-19 vaccine jabs administered in PH – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   December 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has administered over 90 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines since the government rolled out the immunization drive in March, Malacañang said Friday.

Citing the December 2 data from the National COVID-19 Vaccination dashboard, acting Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Nograles said a total of 90,259,621 doses have been administered nationwide.

Of said figure, 48.42 percent or 37.3 million individuals have been fully vaccinated, he added.

The total included some 52.4 million first doses and 432,301 booster doses.

The government aims to vaccinate 54 million by the end of 2021 and up to 70 million by March 2022 to attain population protection against COVID-19.

In a bid to scale up the country’s vaccination rate, the government launched a three-day mass vaccination campaign, which initially aimed to vaccinate 9 million.

The campaign covered at least 8 million individuals in three days. The Department of Health earlier said this figure is expected to go up as reports continue to come in.

Meanwhile, the government also announced that the expanded rollout of the administration of booster shots for all fully vaccinated individuals aged 18 and above has started on Friday.

This program includes the Phase 2 rollout of the booster and additional doses for priority group A3 (persons with comorbidities), Nograles said.

Tandaan natin na importanteng magpabakuna sa gitna ng banta ng Omicron variant,” he said.

“Sa milyun-milyong nabakunahan na mga Pilipino, 99%+++ ay walang naramdaman na adverse reaction, o kung mayroon man, mild lamang po ito. Wala pong namatay na direktang may kaugnayan sa COVID-19 vaccine jab,” he added.

8 million people immunized vs COVID-19 in PH mass vaccination drive – NVOC

Robie de Guzman   •   December 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – At least 8 million individuals out of the 9 million target vaccinees were vaccinated against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) during the three-day mass vaccination drive, the National Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC) said Friday.

Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje, who chairs the NVOC, said a total of 2,709,344 COVID-19 shots were administered on the first day of the campaign; 2,475,479 on day 2; and 2,829,928 on Wednesday.

Based on current data, the running total of administered doses was at 8,014,751 as of 6 a.m. Friday.

Cabotaje said the figure is expected to increase when reports from local government units come in.

The NVOC chair said the top performing regions in terms of the number of jabs administered were Calabarzon, Central Luzon, and Central Visayas.

“Together, they have accounted for about a third of the 8 million jabs that have been produced during the three days,” she said in a televised public briefing.

Provinces with the highest vaccination outputs during the three-day drive were Cebu, Negros Occidental, and Cavite.

Authorities initially aimed to inoculate at least 9 million individuals during the three-day vaccination drive from November 29 to December 1.

The vaccination program has been extended until Friday.

Another round of nationwide immunization against COVID-19 will be held from December 15 to 17.

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