Tokyo could declare new emergency if coronavirus worsens

UNTV News   •   July 31, 2020   •   3165

Tokyo could declare a state of emergency if the coronavirus situation in the Japanese capital deteriorates further, its governor warned on Friday (July 31).

Yuriko Koike said Tokyo had confirmed 463 new cases on Friday – another single-day record – and implored residents to follow health guidelines to contain the spread of the virus.

“If the situation worsens, Tokyo would have to think about issuing its own state of emergency,” Koike told a news conference.

The Japanese government lifted the nationwide state of emergency in late May after Japan appeared to have contained the outbreak, touting its mask-wearing habits and health system as some of the factors that helped it fare better than Europe and the United States.

But the virus has made a worrying resurgence. The number of daily new cases in Japan hit a new record on Thursday (July 30), with infections spreading rapidly not only in Tokyo but also in other regions. (Reuters)

(Production: Akira Tomoshige, Hideto Sakai)

Battle against COVID-19 not yet lost despite overcrowding of patients in hospitals, DOH says

Robie de Guzman   •   March 31, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has not yet lost its battle against COVID-19 despite the surge in cases and near-critical hospital capacity especially in Metro Manila, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Wednesday.

“Hindi naman talaga tayo talo, the health system is not collapsing. It’s just that we’re trying to manage the challenge of the surge,” Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega said during the Laging Handa public briefing.

Vega issued the statement in response to the remark of the Philippine Hospital Association that hospitals are already “overwhelmed and overrun” in view of the uptick in COVID-19 cases due to their depleted resources and lack in manpower.

Several hospitals in Quezon City, Makati, Taguig, and Navotas have earlier reported high critical situation in the use of their intensive care units (ICU).

Other hospitals in Metro Manila have also reached moderate risk situation in terms of their bed capacity for COVID-19 patients.

The severity of the situation and overworked hospital staff have prompted the Philippine Hospital Association to say that the country has already lost in the fight against the pandemic.

But Vega said the country’s health system is not yet collapsing amid the alarming rise in coronavirus cases.

In response to the situation, he said hospitals are already re-allocating their beds to accommodate more COVID-19 patients.

More healthcare workers from provinces with low COVID-19 incidence have also been deployed in the NCR Plus bubble.

Medical adviser to the National Task Force Against COVID-19 Dr. Ted Herbosa also does not subscribe to the notion that the country has lost the fight as hospitals still continue to manage patients and have not shut their doors.

“Hindi naman, kasi gumagana pa ang mga ospital. When you say collapsed, ang tawag namin diyan sa disaster medicine ay ‘functional collapse’ — hindi na magamot ang mga tao, mamamatay na yung di dapat mamatay,” he said.

He, however, admitted that many hospitals in Metro Manila are experiencing overcrowding of COVID-19 patients and this is the reason why some patients are being sent for admission in hospitals outside the NCR Plus bubble.

“So as of now, ang nangyayari is we are at a period of surge capacity, over capacity yung ating health system,” he said.

Metro Manila and four nearby provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal – collectively called as NCR Plus bubble – have been placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in a bid to arrest the surge in COVID-19 cases.

The ECQ period is from March 29 to April 4.

The DOH earlier recommended a one-week extension of the ECQ to see a decline in the number of cases and its effect on the healthcare utilization rate.

The Inter-Agency Task Force is set to meet on Saturday to discuss the proposal. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

PH gov’t eyes scaling up of COVID-19 vaccination by April and May – Galvez

Robie de Guzman   •   March 31, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government is looking to boost its vaccination drive against COVID-19 as part of its calibrated strategy to contain the virus and revive the economy, vaccine czar and National Task Force against COVID-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said.

In his report to President Rodrigo Duterte, Galvez said 2021 is intended for a “containment strategy with the government securing steady vaccine supply and scaling up its vaccination through the mobilization of the national government, LGUs, and the private sector.”

Under the strategy, the government will scale up vaccination in April and May, targeting to inoculate 500,000 to one million per week.

Galvez said that once the bulk of the vaccines arrive in June and July, the government eyes to increase vaccination up to three million per week. From August to December, three million to five million per week.

“Ang parang pinakatarget po natin is we will have a better Christmas sa 2021,” Galvez said in a televised briefing on Monday.

To achieve herd immunity, Galvez stressed that there is a need to maximize the vaccination drive, with the government administering more or less 450,000 to 500,000 doses a day.

“The main goal is to completely eliminate COVID-19,” Galvez said.

To achieve this, he said they are communicating with the different vaccine manufacturers developing booster vaccines that can neutralize new COVID-19 variants.

“The government will authorize local pharmaceuticals companies to directly communicate with their foreign counterparts in order for the country to attain vaccine security by 2022,” he added.

The vaccine czar said the Philippine government is looking at India’s self-sufficiency strategy, stressing that if the country can establish its own manufacturing capability, there is no need for the importation of vaccines and other medicines.

“So iyon po ang isang nakita po namin na magkaroon po tayo sana ng aside from the Universal Health Care Law, magkaroon po sana tayo ng Health Security Act na ‘yong ating DOH at ang ating health care system will be modernized,” he said.

“So to 2023, at least we can start ‘yong health self-sufficiency to next pandemic so that we can prepare just in case na magkaroon po ng next pandemic,” he added.

The government targets to inoculate 1.7 million health workers. So far, 668,018 healthcare workers have been vaccinated.

Unemployment rate in PH rose to 4.2M in February – PSA

Robie de Guzman   •   March 30, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The number of Filipinos who lost their jobs jumped to 4.2 million in February this year, based on data released by Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) Tuesday.

In a virtual press briefing, National Statistician and Civil Registrar General Dennis Mapa said the unemployment rate in February was recorded at 8.8 percent, which is equivalent to 4.2 million Filipinos aged 15 and above.

Mapa said this is higher than the 8.7 percent or 4 million individuals in January 2021.

The underemployment rate, meanwhile, clocked in at 18.2 percent in the second month of the year. This is higher when compared to 16 percent recorded in the previous month, according to the PSA.

Mapa said the February’s statistics is the first data released under the PSA’s new monthly survey.

“Simula nitong Pebrero 2021, ang buwanang labor force survey ay isasagawa sa pagitan ng quarterly or regular labor force survey upang magkaroon ng high frequency data on labor and employment bilang isa sa mga basehan sa paggawa ng polisiya at plano, lalo na iyong may kinalaman sa COVID-19,” he said.

PSA’s data showed that the unemployment rate rose to 17.6 percent in April 2020 following the first lockdown implemented to curb the transmission of COVID-19.

According to Mapa, the latest enforcement of stringent COVID-19 protocols will likely reflect in the April 2021 survey.

Metro Manila and four nearby provinces of Cavite, Bulacan, Rizal, and Laguna have been placed under enhanced community quarantine from March 29 to April 4.

On Monday night, President Rodrigo Duterte some areas in the country under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) and general community quarantine (GCQ) for the month of April due to the recent surge in COVID-19 infections.

The Philippines on Monday recorded 10,016 new coronavirus infections, the highest since the pandemic began last year.

The latest figure pushed the country’s total active cases to 115,495 and the total cases to 731,894, according to the Department of Health.

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