QC gov’t taps PH Red Cross, clinic to expand COVID-19 testing

Robie de Guzman   •   April 12, 2021   •   635

The Quezon City government has partnered with the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) and a private diagnostics clinic in a bid to further increase the city’s mass testing and speed up the detection of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a statement, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said they have tapped the PRC and diagnostics clinic Hi-Precision to expand the city’s swab and X-ray testing amid the surge in COVID-19 cases.

“Our partnerships will allow us to pool all available resources, weave our efforts, and immediately address the needs of our most affected communities,” Belmonte said.

Under a memorandum of agreement, the PRC will allocate 8,000 RT-PCR test kits to the city worth around P3,400 each.

Belmonte said the partnership will allow the city government “to test more residents and subsequently reinforce its contact tracing efforts” and increase the turnaround time for the releasing of test results.

Under the partnership with Hi-Precision diagnostics clinic, the city government said the facility has offered to lend its two mobile X-ray units to the city.

The said units, which are worth P3.6 million, will be set up in two of the city’s HOPE facilities and cater to the admitted patients.

“The idea is to decongest our hospitals by putting these machines in our HOPE facilities so that our mild to moderate or asymptomatic patients can have their X-ray done at the soonest time possible,” Belmonte said.

The Quezon City government also said it is also planning to open three additional testing centers which will cater to individuals who are manifesting flu-like symptoms and those who have exposure to COVID-positive patients in the communities.

The existing community-based testing centers are in Toro Hill Basketball Court (District 1), Payatas Super Health Center (District 2), Old Balara Covered Court (District 3), Amoranto Stadium (District 4), SB Park Novaliches (District 5), and Talipapa Senior High School (District 6).

All centers operate Mondays to Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

QC records 66% increase in violence against women and children

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 27, 2021

The Quezon City Police District (QCPD) reported a 66.67% increase in violence against women and children (VAWC) cases and a 21.54% increase in rape cases.

QCPD Director BGen. Antonio Yarra reported an increase in VAWC and rape cases in the first eight months of the year compared to the same period last year.

He also noted that the pandemic played a significant role in the upward trend, as most families are at home.

This was compounded by the financial difficulties experienced by many families, resulting in domestic conflict.

Most of the recorded cases were of physical abuse, with psychological abuse a distant second.

“We have launched a campaign to make women aware of their rights and make them advocates so they will be encouraged to report abuses,” he said.

QC Mayor Joy Belmonte expressed concern on the issue and rallied victims or their relatives and friends to report such abuses through the QC Protection Center Hotline 122, or to the barangay and QCPD women’s desk.

She also directed concerned local authorities to closely monitor and act swiftly on calls and reports pertaining to VAWC and other gender-based incidents.

“We cannot let any QCitizen suffer from gender-based violence in Quezon City especially during the pandemic,” she said.

Belmonte reported that the Quezon City government together with the QCPD are set to launch a unified information management system to facilitate the monitoring and hasten the investigation of VAWC cases. –AAC

Over 42,000 inmates in BJMP jails now vaccinated vs COVID-19

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 27, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—Over 42,000 persons deprived of liberty (PDL) detained in facilities under the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

According to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), a total of 42,493 PDLs have been inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine.

Of the PDLs who got jabbed, 27,951 received the first dose; 7,473 received the second dose and 7,069 received a single dose COVID-19 vaccine.

The top three regions with the highest number of vaccinated PDLs are Metro Manila, CALABARZON, and Northern Mindanao.

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año calls on local government units (LGUs) to provide enough budget allocation for PDLs and jail officers.

Nakikiusap kami sa ating mga LGUs na bigyan ng sapat na alokasyon ang mga PDLs at jail officers. Napakadelikado na magkaroon ng hawaan sa loob ng mga piitan kaya dapat ay bakunado rin sila (We are requesting the LGUs to provide sufficient allocation for PDLs and jail officers. It would be very dangerous to have transmission inside detention centers so they need to be vaccinated as well),” he said.

“Our PDLs are not and will never be second-class citizens and they, too, deserve to be protected from the virus. We will not stop until all PDLs under the DILG and the BJMP’s supervision are all vaccinated,” he added.

Among the BJMP personnel, 12,568 are fully vaccinated while 14,441 are waiting for their second dose. AAC (with reports from Janice Ingente)

DepEd, DOH ink guidelines for pilot run of face-to-face learning

Robie de Guzman   •   September 27, 2021

MANILA, Philippines ­– The Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Health (DOH) on Monday signed the guidelines for the pilot implementation of in-person classes in selected areas deemed as low-risk for COVID-19.

The DepEd said the guidelines contain mechanisms to ensure safety of participating learners, teaching and non-teaching staff, and their families.

“Our utmost priority is the health and safety of our learners and teachers while ensuring that learning happens and learning gaps are addressed. We have been proactive in planning for safe return to schools,” Education Secretary Leonor Briones said.

“The operational guideline for the pilot run of face-to-face classes is a product of our collaboration with DOH, in consultation with various stakeholders, including child health experts,” she added.

Briones stressed that the guidelines will only be applicable for schools that passed the strict vetting process of DepEd and DOH, and have the support of their respective local government units.

The pilot test will be conducted in 120 schools across the country that have passed the School Readiness Assessment conducted by DepEd and concerned local government units.

The guidelines set standards on the readiness of schools for re-opening. It implements the Prevent, Detect, Isolate, Treat, and Reintegrate (PDITR) framework highlighting the importance of availability of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities.

The guidelines also emphasized the need for proper ventilation in classrooms, room layouts that will enable physical distancing between persons, prioritization of students who will benefit most from limited face-to-face learning modality, management of foot traffic, and conduct of simulation activities prior to implementation of the pilot, among others.

“We want to ensure that we provide safe learning spaces for children during this pandemic. The pilot run will be a shared responsibility among DOH, DepEd and local government units to ensure that mechanisms are in place from prevention of COVID-19 infection to reintegration of recovered patients,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.

“It is also a shared responsibility among school management, teachers, and families for ensuring that all minimum public health standards are observed and possible COVID-19 cases are detected early through regular symptoms screening and reporting,” he added.

Teachers and school personnel participating in the program should be fully vaccinated, must be aged 65 and below, and have no co-morbidities.

“We are committed to providing additional protection for our teachers through vaccination. While vaccination is not mandatory, classroom learning will be limited to vaccinated teaching personnel. So as not to disenfranchise unvaccinated teachers, they may teach using distance or online modules. This also presents options for parents who are still hesitant to send their children to school,” Duque said.

Under the guidelines, Kindergarten class will have a maximum of 12 learners, while Grade 1 to 3 classes will have 16 students. Technical-Vocation classes in five senior high schools may have 20 learners.

Learners in Kindergarten to Grade 3 will only spend a maximum of 3 hours in school while senior high school students will have 4 hours.

The pilot will feature a combined implementation of face-to-face classes and distance learning.

DepEd assured it has drafted a contingency plan with recommended actions for various scenarios, which range from where there is a suspected case presenting symptoms, to a scenario where there is resurgence of COVID-19 cases in multiple barangays. This sets the policy on when schools should impose a lockdown.

“With the help of DOH and other local partners, we will soon orient those who will be involved in the pilot run and coordinate with them regarding the prioritization of their vaccination in case our participating teachers and other non-teaching personnel haven’t completed their vaccines yet,” Briones said.

The government has yet to announce the exact date of the pilot run for physical classes, as well as the list of participating schools.

The dry run will be carried out for two months. Its expansion will depend on the result of the evaluation of the pilot test.

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