BOC to impose stricter monitoring vs. ‘ukay-ukay’, food imports amid 2019-nCov fears
Robie de Guzman • January 29, 2020 • 308
MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Wednesday said it will implement stricter monitoring on the entry of imported used clothing and food products amid the rapid spread of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in China and other countries.
Under Philippine laws, the importation of secondhand clothing, locally known as ‘ukay-ukay’, is prohibited while the importation of food products should be accompanied with necessary documents from concerned government agencies like the Department of Agriculture.
“Right now, we’re very high on alert on used clothing, May premium ang ukay-ukay kasi. That’s one of the easiest ways na puwede mo ma-transmit yung sakit na yan,” BOC Assistant Commissioner Vincent Maronilla said in a press briefing at the Malacañang.
“We’re now looking at critical items na puwede mag-carry ng virus na ito. It doesn’t hurt that we be vigilant about them kasi illegal naman talaga ang pagpaparating ng ukay-ulay. Hinuhuli naman naming regularly yan pero ngayon on heightened alert kami,” he added.
Chinese health authorities reported that the emerging virus can spread from animal to person, and through human-to-human transmission.
China’s National Health Commission on Wednesday reported that the number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases has reached 5,974 as the death toll rose to 132.
Maronilla said they are now coordinating with the Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture to prevent the entry into the country of imported materials, such as animal products, that may carry the deadly virus.
“There could be a slowdown in the imports coming from China because these countries now like the US and the others are thinking of not just flight ban of tourist coming in but we don’t know yet how this virus is being carried,” he said.
“And if it can be carried in items that are going to be imported. very simple items. Then I think yung priority namin is yung safety ng mga kababayan natin other than yung makokolekta naming buwis,” he added. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)
Five new drugs are in clinical trials as researchers and Chinese authorities are launching more systematic vaccine tests for the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), officials said Friday.
Some antiviral drugs and traditional Chinese medicines (TCM) have been proven effective in treating COVID-19 patients, Chen Shifei, deputy director of the National Medical Products Administration, told a press conference in Beijing.
“In the current clinical treatment, doctors on the frontline have incorporated a combination of pharmaceutical drugs and TCMs that are safe and effective in their medication plans. That includes some broad-spectrum antiviral drugs and Chinese patent medicines previously approved to hit the market, as well as some widely used hospital formulations. It is learned that more than 80 kinds of TCM formulations have been used in the diagnosis and treatment of patients and these medicines have proven quite effective,” he said.
While paying the utmost attention to medical safety and quality, the National Medical Products Administration has accelerated the approval procedure of new drugs, according to Chen.
“Five new drugs have entered clinical trials for COVID-19 treatment, and so far the trials are progressing smoothly,” he said but did not disclose the names of the drugs.
“We have taken precedence for innovative and generic drugs that have been thoroughly researched and listed as key projects for treating COVID-19, prioritizing their examination and approval process so that doctors can choose to use the drugs for clinical treatment on the precondition of ensuring patients’ safety,” Chen continued.
The official added that the development of vaccines is in the pipeline.
“For vaccines that are safe, effective and controllable in quality, the National Medical Products Administration will race against time to conduct technical reviews and authorize permission to let them join the fight against the viral pneumonia,” said Chen.
China has been affected by the COVID-19 epidemic since December, with the epicenter in Wuhan City in the central province of Hubei.
By the end of Thursday, the new virus had infected more than 75,400 and killed over 2,200 nationwide, while more than 18,200 have been discharged from hospital after being cured.
The Japanese government on Thursday (February 20) defended their efforts to tackle the novel coronavirus’s rapid spread and the quarantine operation that has sparked criticism of authorities just months before Tokyo is due to host the Summer Olympics.
Japan has well over half the known cases outside China due to the ship infections and the rapid spread of the virus and the quarantine operation has sparked criticism of authorities just months before Tokyo is due to host the Summer Olympics.
Infectious disease specialist Kentaro Iwata of Japan’s Kobe University Hospital, who volunteered to help aboard the ship, described the infection control effort on board as “completely inadequate,” and said basic protocols had not been followed.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference that after measures were put in place to isolate passengers on Feb. 5, the number of new infections is now almost at zero.
Two elderly coronavirus-infected passengers from a cruise ship moored near Tokyo have died and two more government officials have been infected, the Japanese government said on Thursday, as more passengers disembarked after two weeks’ quarantine.
More than 620 of the passengers on the Diamond Princess liner have been infected on the ship, which has been quarantined since Feb. 3, initially with about 3,700 people on board.
Mainland China reported on Thursday (February 20) the lowest number of confirmed cases of a new coronavirus since late January, partly because of a change in diagnostic criteria for patients in Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak.
China had 394 new confirmed cases on Wednesday (February 19), the National Health Commission (NHC) said, sharply down from 1,749 cases a day earlier and the lowest since Jan. 23.
That brings the total accumulated number of confirmed cases in mainland China to 74,576.
How cases are diagnosed and confirmed has had a big impact on official tallies of cases, and changes in the method have raised questions about the extent to which daily tallies accurately reflect the state of the outbreak.
The new coronavirus emerged in the city of Wuhan, the capital of the central province of Hubei, in December, having apparently been passed to people from wildlife sold illegally in a market.
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