RT-PCR COVID-19 test not required for blood donors – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   June 15, 2021   •   425

MANILA, Philippines – Healthy individuals who wish to donate blood are not required to undergo a COVID-19 RT-PCR test and submit their negative results at blood banks, the Department of Health’s (DOH) National Voluntary Blood Services Program said on Tuesday.

During the Laging Handa public briefing, program manager Dr. Marites Estrella explained that eligible blood donors undergo pre-screening before they head to blood banks.

“Hindi na po natin kailangan ng RT-PCR Test para po mag-donate ng dugo kasi unang-una po ang mga nagdo-donate ng dugo ay yung mga healthy individuals lang,” Estrella said.

“Of course, yung health protocols natin kung ano yung mga symptoms ng COVID-19 at exposure nila, tinatanong na rin natin yan,” she added.

Estrella said that blood donors must be aged 18 and 65 years old, must weigh at least 50 kilograms and do not have co-morbidities. They must also be well hydrated, and have at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep before donating blood.

She advised those who wish to donate blood to call or coordinate with nearest blood center for the pre-screening.

Estrella said blood donations declined by 22 percent in 2020 following the imposition of community quarantine restrictions in the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.

From 1.38 million units of blood in 2019, she said only 1.04 million units of blood were collected last year.

“Ang atin kasing suplay ng dugo dapat one percent of the total population… Bumaba po ang collection natin ng dugo mula po ng magkaroon tayo ng lockdowns at mayroon po tayong restrictions,” she said.

Estrella added that donated blood units are used for individuals undergoing dialysis and other patients in need of transfusion.

“Mayroon tayong mga pasyente na nagka-COVID na nagda-dialysis araw-araw, mayroon tayong mga bumaba ang hemoglobin at kailangan nilang salinan… Bumaba ang platelet na kailangan din pong salinan depende po iyan,” she said.

To address declining donated blood supplies, Estrella said the DOH has adjusted its policies by intensifying its blood services network with other concerned agencies.

“Kung wala pong type A doon sa isang hospital at mayroong maraming type A doon sa pangalawang hospital, yun po ay nagsi-share sila para lang po matugunan ang pangangailangan ng ating mga pasyente sa kanilang transfusion ng dugo bawa’t araw,” she said.

The DOH encouraged the public, especially young people, to donate blood to ensure adequate supply amid the pandemic.  RRD (with details from Correspondent Janice Ingente)

PH gov’t tracing 253 passengers from Africa amid looming threat of Omicron

Robie de Guzman   •   December 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government is tracing and monitoring more than 200 travelers who arrived in the country from African nations in the last two weeks amid the threat of new COVID-19 variant called Omicron, the Department of Health (DOH) said Friday.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they have traced a total of 253 passengers from South Africa who arrived in the Philippines from November 15 to 29.

“BOQ has started to locate these passengers,” Vergeire said in a virtual press forum.

Of the 253 passengers, 249 were returning overseas Filipinos and four were foreigners. Authorities have traced 71 of these individuals.

The number includes three foreigners still in quarantine in Western Visayas after yielding negative test results.

Vergeire said three of these passengers initially tested positive for COVID-19. One passenger came from South Africa, another from Burkina Faso, and the other from Egypt.

She said samples of these travelers may undergo genome sequencing for variant identification.

“We are still processing the batch that we are going to subject to whole genome sequencing for this week. Results might be tonight or maybe tomorrow,” she said.

“Meron pong dumating na 253 from South Africa noong Nov. 15 to 29, may tatlo galing Burkina Faso; and mayroon 541 galing Egypt. Each of these countries nagkaroon ng isang traveler who tested positive for COVID-19,” she added.

The Philippine government banned the entry of travelers – except for Filipino repatriates – from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique, Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy until December 15 as a precautionary measure against the Omicron variant.

The DOH said the heavily mutated variant and potentially more infectious than other coronavirus variants have now been detected in 35 countries.

The variant was first discovered in South Africa.

It has been designated as a variant of concern but the World Health Organization said further studies are needed to better understand the variant’s effect on vaccines, treatment, and the virus’ transmissibility.

Over 90 million COVID-19 vaccine jabs administered in PH – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   December 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has administered over 90 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines since the government rolled out the immunization drive in March, Malacañang said Friday.

Citing the December 2 data from the National COVID-19 Vaccination dashboard, acting Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Nograles said a total of 90,259,621 doses have been administered nationwide.

Of said figure, 48.42 percent or 37.3 million individuals have been fully vaccinated, he added.

The total included some 52.4 million first doses and 432,301 booster doses.

The government aims to vaccinate 54 million by the end of 2021 and up to 70 million by March 2022 to attain population protection against COVID-19.

In a bid to scale up the country’s vaccination rate, the government launched a three-day mass vaccination campaign, which initially aimed to vaccinate 9 million.

The campaign covered at least 8 million individuals in three days. The Department of Health earlier said this figure is expected to go up as reports continue to come in.

Meanwhile, the government also announced that the expanded rollout of the administration of booster shots for all fully vaccinated individuals aged 18 and above has started on Friday.

This program includes the Phase 2 rollout of the booster and additional doses for priority group A3 (persons with comorbidities), Nograles said.

Tandaan natin na importanteng magpabakuna sa gitna ng banta ng Omicron variant,” he said.

“Sa milyun-milyong nabakunahan na mga Pilipino, 99%+++ ay walang naramdaman na adverse reaction, o kung mayroon man, mild lamang po ito. Wala pong namatay na direktang may kaugnayan sa COVID-19 vaccine jab,” he added.

24K expired AstraZeneca vaccine doses sa Western Visayas, susuriin kung maaari pang gamitin – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   December 3, 2021

Ipinapasuri na ng Department of Health (DOH)-Western Visayas kung maaari pang gamitin ang nasa 24,000 doses ng AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine na nag-expire noong November 30.

Bahagi ito ng libu-libong supply ng AstraZeneca vaccine na ipinadala sa Western Visayas noong buwan ng Oktubre.

Nasa 45,000 doses sa mga ito ang ipinadala sa Negros Occidental noong Nobyembre 8. Batay sa ulat ng provincial government, 14,920 doses pa ang natitira sa mga ito at hindi nagamit hanggang sa mag-expire noong Nobyembre 30.

Ayon kay Negros Occidental provincial administrator Atty. Rayfrando Diaz II, hindi ginamit ang mga nasabing bakuna dahil tumanggi umano ang mga local government unit (LGU) na tanggapin ito dahil sa nalalapit na expiration date.

“We value our vaccines. We want to use them. We do not delay, but we value more the vaccinees. We don’t want to inject vaccines that are about to expire,” ani Diaz.

Ang natitirang 10,000 doses naman ay nasa iba’t ibang lokalidad.

Ayon sa DOH regional office, ipinasasauli na nila ang mga nasabing bakuna upang masuri kung maaari pa itong gamitin.

Ayon kay Bea Camille Natalaray, ang tagapagsalita ng DOH Region 6, hihingan rin ng paliwanag ang concerned LGUs kung bakit hindi nagamit ang nasabing supply.

“Magpapasa sila ng incident report to explain bakit hindi nila na-utilize ang vaccine within the period of time. Ano ang mga factors konoconsider para next time maging part na siya ng ating mga guidelines or protocols or strategies,” ani Natalaray.

Sa ngayon ay hinihintay pa ng DOH-6 ang magiging desisyon ng central office kung dapat bang managot ang mga LGU sa pagkasira ng mga bakuna. (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Lalaine Moreno)

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