Private hospitals’ group doubts NCR alert system will help lower COVID-19 cases

Robie de Guzman   •   September 15, 2021   •   305

MANILA, Philippines – The Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines Inc. (PHAPi) on Wednesday expressed doubt that the new quarantine alert level system can help bring down COVID-19 cases in the country.

PHAPi president Dr. Rene de Grano said healthcare workers understand the need to balance the economy and public health in implementing quarantine classifications.

But he questioned the basis of shifting to a policy with different alert levels based on COVID-19 case transmission and healthcare utilization.

De Grano also said that the current efforts on contact tracing and the government’s data on transmission rate still need improvement in order for the system to be effective.

“Ang nakikita kong problem diyan is iyong basis ng levels 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Ang basis nila, first is the case transmission. It’s okay as long as iyong ating contact tracing is very credible and well done, but presently parang kulang na kulang. So we cannot have siguro a very reliable case transmission rate,” he said.

“Kung reliable iyong ating contact tracing then tama lang na we can rely on that. Nakita natin, let’s say in an area in a barangay, there are, let’s say, more than 20% na infected, then you can do something about it,” he added.

De Grano said hospital occupancy rate should not be used as basis in determining the alert level per area as some hospitals are catering to patients coming from other provinces.

Areas with big hospitals such as the St. Lukes Medical Center, Makati Medical Center, and the Asian Hospital would also be placed often under alert levels 4 and 5 as these facilities serve many COVID-19 patients.

“Hindi nga ano iyon eh mahirap gawing basis iyong kasi patients do not come from the area… Patients come especially from Southern Tagalog Region,” he said.

The PHAPi hopes that the government will be able to craft the most suitable policy to effectively curb the virus transmission.

“This is really a trial experimental thing. So anyway, after the two weeks siguro they’ll think of another way to do it and hopefully they’ll learn something from it. Again, it’s a balancing act hindi natin pwedeng sabihin na ito na lang ang ire-resolve natin. Kailangan pa rin ma-resolve ang economic problem naman ng tao kasi otherwise, kapag gutom na tao wala silang pakialam eh, kapag lalo wala ka nang makain,” he said.

The Department of Health earlier said that the country’s COVID-19 classification remains at high-risk amid high infections rate and healthcare utilization.

PH FDA approves COVID-19 vaccine booster jabs for general adult population

Robie de Guzman   •   December 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday announced it has approved the administration of COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for the general adult population.

FDA director general Eric Domingo said the booster shots will be administered to all adults aged 18 years old and above, based on the assessment of benefit and risks

Domingo said the same brands and combinations like those recommended for health workers, senior citizens, and immunocompromised individuals will be applied to booster doses for the general adult population.

The FDA earlier said that vaccine brands Pfizer, AstraZeneca, SInovac, Moderna, and Sputnik V will be used as booster shots.

The guidelines on the distribution and use of booster shots will be released by the Department of Health.

“Sisimulan na rin natin, lumabas na yung EUA Amendment mula sa FDA. Nilagdaan na po ni director general Eric Domingo yung advisory na ito… Anytime this week,” said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

The government has started giving booster shots to health workers, senior citizens, and select immunocompromised individuals in November.

COVID-19 variant Omicron not yet detected in Philippines – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   December 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Newly-discovered COVID-19 variant Omicron has not yet been detected in the Philippines, the Department of Health (DOH) said following reports about travelers from South Africa who are being quarantined in Negros Occidental.

“We are getting details on these travellers, we will provide info as soon. Just to be clear, no detection yet of Omicron, we are still processing next batch of whole genome sequences,” DOH Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a statement.

The three foreign nationals arrived in Negros Occidental last November 26.

They are currently being quarantined in Manapla, Calatrava, and La Carlota City.

Local authorities said the foreign travelers arrived in the country on November 25 before the national government placed South Africa under the Red List due to the Omicron variant.

They have also been issued with Safe, Swift, and Smart Passage (S-Pass) in Makati and have passed the approval of the Bureau of Quarantine in Manila.

The provincial government said the three are fully vaccinated and tested negative based on their RT-PCR test results. They will undergo re-swabbing while under quarantine.

Local officials have assured the public that the travelers are being monitored and that they will continue to intensify their measures against COVID-19.

Google to pause election ads during 2022 polls in Philippines

Robie de Guzman   •   December 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Google on Wednesday announced it will not accept election ads in the Philippines during the election campaign and silence periods for the 2022 national and local elections.

In a statement, Google said the policy will apply to election advertisements in the Philippines that are purchased through Google ads, Display and Video 360, and shopping platforms that advertisers intend to place on Google, YouTube, and partner properties.

This also includes advertisements that promote or oppose any political party or the candidacy of any person or party for public office, the tech giant added.

Based on the calendar of activities released by the Commission on Elections, the official campaign period for national candidates will start on February 8, and on March 25 for local candidates.

“Google is focusing its efforts and resources on upcoming election-related initiatives, which aim to help people access, useful and accurate information via product features and media literacy program, encourage participation in the voting process and help protect the integrity of the elections,” the tech giant said.

Under the rules and regulations of the Fair Elections Act for the 2022 elections, political advertisements or election propaganda refer to any matter broadcasted, published, printed, displayed or exhibited, in any medium, which contains the name, logo, brand, insignia and other symbol or graphic representation that is capable of being associated with a candidate, and is exclusively intended to draw the attention of the public or a segment thereof to promote or oppose, directly or indirectly, the election of said candidates to a public office.

Political advertising includes endorsements, statements, declaration, or information graphics, appearing on any internet website, social network, blogging site, and micro blogging site, which – when taken as a whole – has for its principal object the endorsement of a candidate only, or which were posted in return for consideration or are otherwise capable of pecuniary estimation.

Earlier this year, Google launched a #MagparehistroKa campaign with COMELEC and other partners.

It also hosted a website on Google Cloud to support voter registration campaigns.


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