PH detects COVID-19 UK variant

Maris Federez   •   January 13, 2021   •   543

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) officially confirmed the detection of the B.1.1.7. SARS-CoV-2 variant (UK variant) in the country.

This, after samples from a Filipino who arrived from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on January 7 yielded positive genome sequencing results, according to a DOH press release Wednesday (January 13) following strengthened biosurveillance and border control efforts of the two agencies.

The advisory said the patient is a male resident of Quezon City who departed for Dubai on December 27, 2020 for business purposes and arrived in the Philippines last January 7, 2021 via Emirates Flight No. EK 332.

After the positive was released, the patient was referred to a quarantine facility in Quezon City while his samples were sent to PGC for whole genome sequencing.

He was also accompanied by his female partner during his trip, but she tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 upon arrival. She, however, is currently under strict quarantine and monitoring.

The DOH said the two had no exposure to a confirmed case prior to their departure to Dubai nor had any travel activities outside Quezon City.

The health department immediately conducted contact tracing, in close coordination with the QC government. Contact tracers reported that the initially identified contacts are asymptomatic and currently under strict home quarantine.

The DOH said that they are continually working closely with the QC LGU to ensure that timely and effective measures are in place to mitigate transmission.

The agency has also secured the flight manifest of Emirates Flight No. EK 332 and contact tracing of other passengers is now underway.

Health authorities advise those who were aboard the said flight to get in touch with their Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERTs).

Meanwhile, the health department said that it will intensify the weekly genomic biosurveillance among incoming passengers, local cases, re-infected patients, and those with reported clustering of cases.

The DOH said it has also coordinated with the Department of Interior and Local Government for the expansion of contact tracing to include third-generation close contacts for known B.1.1.7 cases. All close contacts of confirmed B.1.1.7 cases shall also undergo strict 14-day facility-based quarantine, the advisory said.

The DOH is reiterating its call to national government agencies, local government units and the public for stricter observance of the minimum public health standards and stricter implementation of quarantine protocols to further mitigate the risk of acquiring the virus and slow down possible mutations.

DOH vaccination activity vs measles, rubella, polio extends until March 7

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Health (DOH) has extended the Measles, Rubella, and Oral Polio Vaccine Supplemental Immunization Activity (MR-OPV SIA) until March 7.

The health department said this is in order to reach the target population of 95%.

As of March 1, 2021, the health department reported that of the national target, 83.7% or 4,269,423 have been vaccinated against Measles and Rubella; while 3,939,677 or 82.4% have been vaccinated against Polio.

The extension of the immunization program aims to vaccinate over 800,000 more children in the target regions in the country.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III encourages parents and legal guardians to have their 0-59 month old children vaccinated against vaccine-preventable diseases under the MR-OPV SIA.

“To our parents and guardians, let us retain our confidence in vaccines and put our trust in science. These vaccines are proven safe and effective. Let us protect our children and not deny them the opportunity to grow into healthy individuals, free from vaccine-preventable illnesses,” he said. -AAC

Mga pulitiko at non-frontliners na nagpabakuna vs COVID-19, paiimbestigahan – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   March 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Paiimbestigahan ng Department of Health (DOH) ang ilang pulitiko at non-frontliners na umano’y nagpaturok ng Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines sa ilalim ng vaccination roll out ng pamahalaan kahit wala naman sila sa priority list.

Ayon kay Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, prayoridad ng vaccination program ng pamahalaan na mabigyan ng bakuna ang healthcare workers alinsunod sa guidelines na inilabas ng Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-MEID).

“Hindi ko pa kasi nakikita yung listahan na yan but we will have it investigated kung papaanong nangyari because malinaw naman yung ating prioritization formula na nakalagay po doon mga healthcare workers lang,” ang wika ni Duque.

Nilinaw naman ng pinuno ng DOH na hindi kasali sa polisiya sina vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., testing czar Secretary Vince Dizon at Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Benhur Abalos.

Aniya, pinakiusapan ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte ang tatlo na magpabakuna sa layuning pataasin ang kumpiyansa ng publiko sa COVID-19 vaccine.

“’Yang mga ‘yan, pinakiusapan mismo ni Pangulo para lang ang kaniyang pakay, tumaas ang vaccine confidence. So, hindi naman yan parang napakadami, parang tatlong doses lang yan over 600,000,” ng pahayag ni Duque.

Samantala, nagpahayag naman ng suporta ang ilang Metro Manila mayors sa panawagan ng DOH na unahin ang frontline workers sa vaccine rollout at saka na lamang sila magpabakuna kapag natapos na ang vaccination sa mga nasa priority list.

Ayon sa DOH, ang sinomang lumabag sa polisiya ay dapat isangguni sa IATF upang mapatawan ng kaukulang aksyon. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Asher Cadapan Jr.)

12,000 doses of CoronaVac arrive in Davao City; vaccination rollout to start on Friday

Maris Federez   •   March 2, 2021

DAVAO CITY, Philippines Aboard the flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL), 12,000 doses (placed in 20 boxes) of Sinovac Biotech’s CoronaVac vaccines arrived at the Davao International Airport on Tuesday, March 2, at 6:45 in the morning.

The 12,000 doses of CoronaVac are allocated for the vaccination of more than 8,000 frontliners, most of whom are healthcare workers (HCW).

However, the vaccines were brought to the Department of Health (DOH) Regional office, instead of the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) as originally planned.

The DOH said this is because Sinovac vaccines are not as temperature-sensitive as that of Pfizer vaccines which the SPMC storage facility was designed and constructed for.

CoronaVac can be stored in a storage facility with a +2 to +8˚Celsius temperature, as compared to that of Pfizer vaccines which require a -70˚Celsius temperature.

The DOH said they did not encounter any problems in the transportation of the vaccines from the airport to the DOH office.

The health department also reported that the vaccination rollout among frontliners will begin on Friday, with a target of 150 HWCs.

Based on the DOH priority list, 3,000 HCWs from the SPMC will be inoculated first, to be followed by those from private hospitals.

SPMC OIC Dr. Ricardo Audan, Davao City COVID-19 focal person Dr. Ashley Lopez, and DOH Regional Director Annabelle Yumang volunteered to receive the vaccines first to set an example to their colleagues. —/mbmf (with details from Davao Correspondent, Marisol Montaño)

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