Fil-Chinese school in QC makes face mask mandatory

Marje Pelayo   •   January 29, 2020   •   864

MANILA, Philippines – Several schools across Metro Manila declared class suspension since last week amid novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) scare.

The Philippines remains free of 2019-nCov but observing 26 suspected cases as of Wednesday (January 29).

This, after one of the persons under investigation (OUI) of 2019-nCoV, died of pneumonia at San Lazaro Hospital in Manila.

A Chinese school in Quezon City has ordered the mandatory wearing of face mask within its premises.

Pace Academy is requiring each student to bring two to three face masks a day and advises them to replace the used one every four hours.

Parents and guardians also need to wear mask every time they enter the school premises.

Anyone who enters the school gate needs to go through a temperature check to make sure no one with flu-like symptoms enters the school grounds.

Teachers support the measure as they believe that ‘prevention is better than cure’ given that the current strain of nCoV still has no confirmed treatment or cure yet.

“We suspended classes yesterday in order for the students to prepare (what we require them to bring) like facemask in order to prevent the spread of the virus in case there is,” explained Teacher Kae Tugade.

The school management also obliged all staff who had recent trips to China to secure a medical certificate first clearing them of any infection or disease before they report back to work.

Almost 600 Filipino-Chinese students are enrolled at Pace Academy.

Parents and guardians couldn’t agree more with the school’s new policy.

“Ang immune system nila ay mas low compared sa adults kaya mas double protection na rin sa kanila (Their immune system is weaker than the adults so they need double the protection),” noted Aimee See whose child is enrolled in the said school.

Based on the record of the Association of Filipino-Chinese Schools, there are more than 100 Filipino-Chinese schools across the Philippines. MNP (with details from Joan Nano)

Singapore’s migrant workers fear financial ruin after virus ordeal

UNTV News   •   June 9, 2020

As Sharif Uddin begins to dream about leaving the cramped Singapore dormitory where he has spent weeks under coronavirus quarantine, fears about his future are creeping in.

The 42-year-old Bangladeshi construction site supervisor is one of the thousands of low-income migrant workers trapped in packed bunk rooms that have been ravaged by the coronavirus, accounting for more than 90% of Singapore’s 38,000 infections.

As Singapore began easing its lockdown measures this month, migrants like Uddin started to think about returning to the outside world, bringing to the surface worries about jobs and debts as Singapore braces for its deepest-ever recession.

“The fear of losing jobs is worrying everyone at the moment,” said Uddin, who sends the bulk of his wages to his family in Bangladesh, like many of the South Asians working in manual jobs in Singapore.

For most migrant workers, at least part of their salaries is used to pay off the steep fees of the agent who helped procure the job.

Reuters has interviewed over a dozen migrant workers in Singapore in recent weeks. While many said they were still being paid, they were unsure if they will retain their jobs when the quarantine is lifted.

The Singapore government has given companies tax breaks to try and ensure migrants get paid while under quarantine and introduced measures to help laid off workers find new positions without having to first travel back to their home country, a core complaint of many labourers.

Lawrence Wong, the co-head of Singapore’s virus task force, told Reuters that the government had taken steps to help alleviate the concerns of workers around job security, but added that layoffs were possible given the grim economic outlook.

“There may be some contractors who might decide – well despite all the government measures, with the new arrangements, the new additional requirements in construction, it is very difficult and I might not want to continue in this industry – and then indeed they might release some of their workers,” said Wong, who is also the minister for national development.

He added that some workers may remain quarantined in their dormitories until August, or possibly beyond, as the government completes mass testing.

The pandemic has drawn attention to the stark inequalities in the modern city-state where more than 300,000 labourers from Bangladesh, India and China often live in rooms for 12 to 20 men, working jobs that pay as little as S$20 ($14.30) a day.

That is higher than they would make at home. But the median salary for Singaporeans in 2019 was S$4,563 per month, according to the manpower ministry.

The bigger worry for many migrants like Uddin is the debts they have racked up securing jobs in Singapore.

Migrants will usually be charged S$7,000-10,000 in fees by a recruitment agent in their home country, equivalent to more than a year of their basic salary, according to rights groups. If they lose their job, this debt could haunt their families for years.

“An indebted worker is a more compliant worker and that is what the employers like. That is one reason too that employers prefer to have new workers, than to retain old workers,” said Deborah Fordyce, president of Singapore NGO Transient Workers Count Too.

Wong, the minister, said the government will continue to work to improve migrants’ lives in Singapore, but tackling issues like fees is difficult because many agents operate in the workers’ home countries outside the city-state’s jurisdiction.

Singapore’s government has pledged to improve living conditions for migrant workers in the short-term and build new, higher-spec dormitories over the coming years. (Reuters)

(Production: Pedja Stanisic, Joseph Campbell, Edgar Su, Travis Teo)

Metro Manila may be placed under GCQ in June —Sec. Lorenzana

Maris Federez   •   May 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — National Task Force Against Covid-19 chairperson and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Sunday (May 24) said that Metro Manila may possibly be placed under general community quarantine (GCQ) in June.

With this, Metro Manila residents may expect more relaxed quarantine restrictions to be implemented next month.

Lorenzana said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has been discussing the readiness of the capital region for it to be transitioned to GCQ from the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

“More likely mag-gi-GCQ na tayo by June 1,” the defense chief said.

He added that areas that still have novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases will remain under their control.

“Ang pinag-uusapan namin sa IATF, eh mag-GCQ, pero ‘yung mga areas na meron pa ring… mga infection baka ‘yun na lang ang ikontrol ng konti,” Lorenzana said.

The areas that will be placed under GCQ are those that are considered to be at low risk of COVID-19. With this, more industries will be allowed to operate.

Lorenzana insists that although recorded COVID-19 cases has been going down everyday, quarantine measures must remain to prevent the second wave of the infection.

“We would like to impress in our people ‘yung self-discipline, para masanay sila na ito na ‘yung new normal, na social distancing, wearing of face mask, sanitation,” the official said.

Task Force Against Covid-19 Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez, Jr. has earlier mentioned about the planned “zoning concept” or the measure that will limit the implementation of a lockdown in an area based on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases. —(with details from Victor Cosare) /mbmf

WHO reports most coronavirus cases in a day, cases near five million

UNTV News   •   May 21, 2020

The World Health Organization expressed concern on Wednesday (May 20) for the rising number of new coronavirus cases in poor countries, even as many rich nations emerge from lockdown.

The global health body said 106,000 new cases of infections of the novel coronavirus had been recorded in the past 24 hours, the most in a single day since the outbreak began, as the total number of cases world-wide approached five million.

Speaking at a news conference, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that two thirds of those cases had come from just four countries.

The WHO has come under fire from U.S. President Donald Trump, who accuses it of having mishandled the outbreak and favouring China. This week Trump threatened to withdraw from the WHO and permanently withhold funding.

Tedros acknowledged having received a letter from Trump, but declined to comment further.

In comments that could annoy Trump further, the head of the WHO’s emergency programme, Dr. Mike Ryan, told the press conference that people should avoid using the malaria medicine hydroxychloroquine, except for conditions it is proven to treat. Trump has said he is taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent coronavirus infection.

Tedros said he was committed to accountability. The WHO has announced a review into the response to the pandemic, which emerged in China late last year.

“WHO calls for accountability more than anyone. It has to be done and when it’s done it has to be a comprehensive one,” he said of the review, while declining to give a timeline for it starting. (Reuters)

(Production: Louisa Naks)

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