PRC eyes COVID-19 saliva testing in malls

Marje Pelayo   •   February 1, 2021   •   368

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Red Cross will launch its drive-thru saliva COVID-19 test in malls starting February 3.

The PRC believes saliva testing is easier, more convenient and cheaper.

According to former health secretary now PRC’s molecular laboratory head Dr. Paulyn Ubial, the agency now has 3,100 samples since they started the program on January 25.

To further expand their reach, the PRC targets to put up saliva testing boots in parking areas of shopping malls.

Pwedeng mag drive thru. Ibig sabihin dadaan ang kanilang sasakyan at bibigyan sila ng sample collection kit at  doon sa loob ng sasakyan dudura o idu-drool yung kanilang laway (It can be drive-thru where they can stay inside the vehicle and will be given a sample collection kit for their spit),” Ubial said.

“Kapag nakakuha na sila ng one to two milliliters i-aabot na lang nila ang lalagyan na vial doon sa ating mga saliva collectors (Once they have filled one to two milliliters of the vial, they can just hand it over the vial to saliva collectors),” she added.

Aside from malls, the PRC is also looking to bring the project to factories, offices, schools and public transport stations for jeepney and bus drivers.

Tourist destinations such as Boracay, Siargao, El Nido in Palawan and Bohol are also future venues for the initiative.

Gusto nating ma-test ang mga tao bago sila parang pumasok sa eskwela, pumasok sa trabaho, pumasok sa mall, para nang sa gayon ay mahiwalay na natin ang positive  sa negative (We want to test the people before going to school, work and malls so that we can immediately separate the positive cases from the negative ones),” Ubial added.

For now, the PRC has the capacity of up to 20,000 saliva tests which can expand to 42,000.

According to the agency, saliva testing is cheaper by 50 percent than swab test. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

PACC receives 8,000 complaints on cash aid distribution

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Around 8,000 complaints on cash aid distribution have been received by the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC).

The PACC, on Thursday (April 15), said during the rollout of the cash aid distribution the agency already received around 8,000 complaints.

PAAC Chairman Greco Belgica said the agency is already coordinating with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to discuss the said reports.

Nakakalungkot, we have just received 8,000 reports tungkol dito. Sina-summarize namin ang reports para sa gagawing meeting with the DILG, para maaksyunan, ma-imbestigahan, makasuhan (It is saddening, we have just received 8,000 reports regarding this matter. We are summarizing the reports for our meeting with the DILG for immediate action, investigation, and for the immediate filing of cases),” he said.

Belgica reiterated the need to increase monitoring during the distribution process in order to avoid any form of anomalies.

Titingnan po namin ang sistemang gagamitin nila bukod sa mga complaints. Monitoring has to be strengthened para maiwasan ang mga ganito (We will look into the system used by the [DILG] aside from the complaints received. Monitoring has to be strengthened to avoid these issues),” he said.

The PACC officials expressed alarm on the number of complaints. He noted that during the previous cash aid distribution, the PACC received around 9,000 complaints. During the recent cash distribution, the agency already received 8,000 complaints.

Belgica advises officials not to take the money especially when families affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic are finding it difficult to get by.

Kaunti na lang po iyan para po sa kanila, para po sa kanilang pamilya para mabuhay. Ibigay na po natin sa kanila iyan dahil kung pinakialaman po natin iyan (The cash aid is not much, it is for the public and their families in order to survive. Give it to them because if you took advantage and we will find out [about it]) we will make sure you will be accountable to it,” he warned. AAC

LRT-2 to shorten operating hours starting April 17

Robie de Guzman   •   April 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Light Rail Transit line 2 (LRT-2) will temporarily shorten its operating hours due to the increasing number of LRT-2 frontline personnel infected with COVID-19, the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) said.

In an advisory, the LRTA said the shortened operating hours of 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. will be implemented starting Saturday, April 17 until April 30.

“Consistent with the guidelines from the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), our Management opted to shorten the operating hours so as to help us prevent the further spread of the virus and avoid the possible paralysis of our operations in case the numbers continue to surge,” LRTA Administrator Reynaldo Berroya said.

Out of 1,944 total LRT-2 employees, 1,906 have been tested from April 7 to 8. Of this number, 273 individuals were found positive for coronavirus.

The LRTA said that only 56% are currently functioning among ticket management and sales collection personnel, and about 73% among train drivers. Some 68% of the station personnel are left available with the rest under quarantine due to COVID-19 infection or exposure.

“We have already isolated all the infected/exposed personnel, have implemented work-from-home arrangements for depot workers, revisited train ventilation and air-flow protocols, and ensured that all minimum public health standards are complied with at all times to avoid the further spread of the virus,” Berroya said.

He said that the reduced operating hours will allow the LRTA to still effectively manage LRT-2 operations considering the manpower deficit and allow COVID-19 afflicted employees to recover and complete their mandatory quarantine/isolation period.

The LRTA also noted that under the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) being implemented until April 30, LRT-2 is expected to experience a significant decline in ridership.

“At this time of public health emergency, the welfare and safety of both our passengers and personnel must always come first,” Berroya said.

The LRTA appealed to passengers to strictly observe all the COVID-19 protocols, stressing that “the road to beat the virus is a two-way street.”

Passengers are also reminded to always wear face masks and face shields, to be self-aware and socially disciplined, and to adhere to all COVID-19 health and safety measures in place.

Meanwhile, buses are plying Route 9 (Antipolo to Cubao) and Route 10 (Cubao to Doroteo Jose) to augment LRT-2 operations and to help accommodate affected passengers.

The normal LRT-2 operating schedule will resume on May 1, 2021, the LRTA said

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Alamin: Bakit maari pa ring mahawa ang isang taong nabakunahan na laban sa COVID-19?

Marje Pelayo   •   April 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Patuloy ang paalala ng Department of Health (DOH) sa publiko maging sa mga indibidwal na nakakumpleto na ng dalawang dosage ng COVID-19 vaccines na mag-ingat dahil posible pa rin silang mahawa ng virus.

Paliwanag ng DOH, patuloy pang pinag-aaralan ang pagiging epektibo ng bakuna at wala pang sapat na ebidensya kung kailan makukuha ng isang indibidwal ang ganap na proteksyon pagkatapos na makapagpabakuna.

Ayon sa DOH at maging ng mga vaccine expert, proteksyon sa pagkakaroon ng severe case ng coronavirus disease ang maibibigay ng mga COVID-19 vaccines sa ngayon at hindi ang immunity sa pagkakahawa sa virus.

“Ang sinasabi natin, lahat ng bakuna na available ngayon for EUA ay wala silang kapasidad para mag-block ng transmission. Ibig sabihin, kahit ikaw ay bakunado na even with your second dose you can still be infected and you can still infect others,” paliwanag ni Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

Sa kasalukuyan, ilang bansa gaya ng Singapore at Japan ang nakapagtala na ng mga indibidwal na nahawa pa rin sa COVID-19 ilang araw pagkatapos na mabakunahan ng bakunang Pfizer-BionTech.

Kaya naman pinag-iingat pa rin ng DOH ang mga nakakumpleto na ng two dosage ng COVID-19 vaccines at sumunod pa rin sa health protocols dahil hanggang ngayon ay patuloy pang pinag-aaralan kung kailan makukuha ng isang indibidwal na nabakunahan ang ganap na proteksyon nito sa katawan.

“Wala pang lumalabas na sufficient evidence to state how much time does these vaccines give as protection. mayroon pailan-ilang studies lumalabas up to three months up to six months pero wala pa talagang sufficient na ebidensya at wala pa ring ibinibigay na rekomendasyon ang (World Health Organization),” ayon kay Vergeire.

Ngunit paliwanag ng mga vaccine expert, kung mahahawa man ang indibidwal na naka-kumpleto na ng COVID-19 vaccine, hindi naman ito magkakaroon ng severe cases ng sakit.

Base sa evaluation ng Food and Drug Administration (FDA), ang bakunang CoronaVac ng Sinovac ay may 100 percent efficacy rate laban sa pagkakaroon ng severe case; 50 percent laban sa mild cases; at 83 percent sa moderate cases.

Ang bakunang AstraZeneca naman ay may 100 percent efficacy rate upang protektahan ang isang indibidwal sa pagkakaroon ng moderate to severe cases ng COVID-19.

“Again I reiterate that it may not prevent you from getting an infection but it will suddenly prevent you from severe disease and death,” concluded Dr. Ruby Pawankar, president of the Asia Pacific Association of Allergy, Asthma and Clinical Immunology (APAAACI). MNP (sa ulat ni Harlene Delgado)

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