WHO launches global research forum against novel coronavirus pneumonia

UNTV News   •   February 12, 2020   •   418

A global research and innovation forum was launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva on Tuesday to mobilize international action in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Co-hosted by the WHO and the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness and funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the forum, which kicked off at 09:00 Geneva time (0800 GMT) on Tuesday, is expected to conclude at the end of Wednesday.

The forum gathers roughly 400 participants, both live and online, including leading scientists from virus-related disciplines around the world, representatives of countries with confirmed novel coronavirus cases and those of public health agencies, ethics experts with related expertise, and representatives of major research donors.

According to the WHO, the forum is to identify the uncharted waters of the virus, prioritize research options and coordinate global efforts to avoid duplication of research, and speed up vaccine and medicine development.

A roadmap for the scientific research against the virus is expected to be released following the forum.

The WHO has said that the forum will focus on nine aspects: patterns of the novel coronavirus, the animal and environment from which the virus originated, an epidemiological investigation on the spread of the virus, clinical treatment, nosocomial infection control, medicine development, candidate vaccines, research ethics, and social science and public health measures in outbreak response.

Chinese representatives from the National Health Commission and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention participated in the forum online, and discussed with other experts on the current situation of China’s epidemic situation and countermeasures.

“Not only on epidemiology of the disease, but also on some of their research that’s already been done in China. So that is very, very useful to have it right at the beginning to know about what’s happening. Even when you look at the WHO clinical trial platform, we can see already that 84 clinical studies are registered there, all led by Chinese scientists. But there’re many other researchers’ studies going on. There’re wonderful infrastructure and capacity in China to do these. So we need to learn from them,” said Soumya Swaminathan, the WHO chief scientist.

Experts say that one of the hot topics is how to establish an effective data and sample sharing mechanism, which the WHO has kept calling for and pushing forward, as surveillance, research and development of effective vaccines and therapeutic drugs are only possible with a strain.

Meanwhile, the WHO said it may also need to coordinate how a strain sharer can participate and share the benefits of future research. So far, China, Japan and Italy have all successfully isolated virus strains from the outbreak and said they would like to share them. (Reuters)

Metro Manila to likely transition to GCQ after May 31 —Palace

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 28, 2020

Metro Manila has a possibility to transition to General Community Quarantine (GCQ) from Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) after May 31, according to the Malacañang.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said there is a chance that the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions might ease in Metro Manila and other parts of the country.

The Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) held a meeting on Wednesday (May 27) to determine if the MECQ should continue after May 31.

“Chances are we will, in fact, be transitioning to GCQ in Metro Manila, according to the chief implementer and the DILG [Department of the Interior and Local Government] Secretary,” Roque said in a statement.

The Metro Manila Council (MMC) is also recommending to the IATF to put the National Capital Region under GCQ.

Once Metro Manila transitioned to GCQ, Roque said public transportation will resume operations but will have limited capacity.

He also appealed to the private and public sectors to finalize their work scheme where 50% will resume in worksites and 50% will work from home.

“We are appealing to both private and public sectors to ensure at least 50-50 workforce,” he said. –AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Mandaluyong City beefs up rapid testing after COVID-19 infects 277 tricycle drivers

Marje Pelayo   •   May 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Mandaluyong City government cannot decide yet on whether or not to allow tricycle drivers to operate come June 1.

This, after 277 of the 3,115 tricycle drivers who underwent rapid testing were confirmed positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The Mandaluyong City Health Office is continuously conducting rapid tests among 7,000 tricycle drivers in the city to ensure their safety and the safety of their passengers.

Those who were infected are now under isolation in the city’s quarantine facility while waiting for the confirmatory tests using the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test.

“Nagko contact tracing pa ho kami kasi scattered po ito eh. Hindi po ito kasi by area. So mina-map out pa po namin kung saan sila marami (We are doing contact tracing because these are scattered. It is not just in one area. So we are mapping out where the most number of cases are),” said Dr. Alexander Sta, Maria of the city health office.

The LGU, meanwhile, clarified that the increase in the number of confirmed cases in the city is a result of the mass testing which allowed for the immediate tracking of COVID-19 probable patients and their prompt isolation to curb further spread.

“This is coordinated kasi meron po tayong in-charge sa buong TODA. Then before po ito ni-launch, na-meeting po ang lahat ng presidente ng kanilang mga TODA so binigyan po sila ng schedule (This is a coordinated effort. There is someone in charge of the whole TODA. Before this was launched, we held a meeting with their respective presidents and all of them were given a schedule),” Sta. Maria added.

The city government will test jeepney drivers next once the tests among tricycle drivers is completed. MNP (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

House panel approves P1.5-T fund to create jobs amid COVID-19 pandemic

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 28, 2020

The House Defeat COVID-19 Committee has approved a bill seeking to provide a P1.5-trillion fund to create sustainable jobs amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

House Bill 6709 or the proposed “COVID-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus (CURES) Act of 2020″ is set to fund infrastructure projects in rural areas to help curb unemployment amid the pandemic.

The CURES Act of 2020 shall also be undertaken with the “Balik Probinsya Bagong Pag-asa Program” and the immediate funding of CURES projects shall target the construction of health centers, school buildings, vocational learning centers, as well as improving fish ports and trading centers at barangay levels.

The House Bill is expected to be sponsored on Thursday (May 28) for its 2nd reading approval in the plenary on Thursday afternoon. It will have to go through a 3rd and final reading before it can hurdle the House.

Meanwhile, representatives of other government agencies such as the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) also endorsed the approval of the proposed CURES Act of 2020. –AAC

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