CHED allows 73 universities to conduct limited face-to-face classes

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 16, 2021   •   561

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has approved the conduct of limited face-to-face classes in 73 universities.

During a virtual public briefing on Wednesday (June 16), CHED Chairperson Prospero de Vera III said several universities including the University of the Philippines College of Medicine and the Our Lady of Fatima University (OLFU) began conducting limited face-to-face classes in January. This was after President Rodrigo Duterte approved limited face-to-face classes.

“Sa ngayon, 73 na ang mga pamantasan sa buong Pilipinas na na-inspect na ng CHED, IATF [Inter-Agency Task Force] at local government. Pinayagan na ang mag limited face to face. Mayroon pang nakapilang ibang pamantasan na ini-inspect pa ngayon,” he said.

(Now there are 73 universities in the country that were inspected by CHED, IATF, and the local government. Limited face-to-face classes are now allowed. We still have other universities lined up and are undergoing inspection)

De Vera said medical courses including Nursing, Dentistry, Physical Therapy, and Medical Technology are allowed to have limited face-to-face classes. He also reported that there were zero infections in UP College of Medicine and in OLFU after the opening of classes. The only reported cases of infection, he added, were in Region 8.

“Ibig sabihin, kung talagang tututukan ang compliance sa guidelines na ginawa ng CHED at ng DOH, health protocols at ba pa, ligtas ang mga estudyante dito sa ginagawa nating face-to-face,” he said.

(It means, if the guidelines implemented by CHED and DOH are strictly followed including health protocols, the students will be safe during face-to-face classes)

De Vera also said that the department is looking into expanding the limited face-to-face classes in other degree programs such as Engineering, Information Technology, and Maritime. However, he clarified that the final decision will still be up to President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Kung makikita natin sa datos na ligtas ang unang batch dahil sa compliance sa guidelines ay pupunta tayo kay Presidente Rodrigo Duterte at hihingi ng approval na i-expand and limited fate-to-face classes sa ibang degree program,” he said.

(If we see that the first batch is safe from infection due to compliance with the guidelines, we will go to President Rodrigo Duterte and request for his approval to expand the limited face-to-face classes in other degree programs.) AAC

Daily COVID-19 cases sa NCR, posibleng madoble kung hindi magpapatupad ng hard lockdown — OCTA

Robie de Guzman   •   July 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Naniniwala ang OCTA Research group na dapat magpatupad ang pamahalaan ng “circuit breaker” lockdown upang mapigil ang posibilidad ng lubhang pagkalat ng Delta COVID-19 variant sa bansa.

Ayon kay OCTA Research fellow Prof. Ranjit Rye, maaaring magpatupad ng dalawang linggong enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) o kaya ay modified ECQ upang hindi magaya ang Pilipinas sa sitwasyon sa mga kalapit bansa nang kumalat ang Delta variant.

“What we’re envisioning is something along MECQ, ECQ. They will depend on the government and the amount of precaution we need… It was a precautionary recommendation because of an impending, clear, and present danger post of Delta,” ani Rye.

Sa pagtaya ng grupo, kapag hindi naagapan ay maaaring makapagtala ng 1,500 hanggang 3,000 kaso ng COVID-19 kada araw sa National Capital Region sa susunod na dalawang linggo.

Ayon kay OCTA Research fellow Prof. David Guido, nasa 1.33 na ngayon ang COVID-19 reproduction number sa NCR.

Halos kapareho aniya ito ng reproduction rate nang magkaroon ng surge noong unang bahagi ng 2020.

“It looks like it is manageable this time but it may no longer be manageable if we wait too long, before we make a crucial decision in our pandemic management,” ani Guido.

“We are averaging 1,000 cases. Two weeks ago it was just 600, and we thought it was decreasing, but something is driving the pandemic and pushing the caseload higher,” dagdag pa niya.

Dapat ding iwasan na umabot pa ang bansa sa worst-case scenario at umabot sa critical level hanggang 100% full ang hospital capacity sa NCR sa buwan ng Agosto.

Kasabay ng mga paghihigpit ng quarantine classification ay ang tuloy tuloy at mas mabilis na COVID-19 vaccination sa bansa.

Inirerekomenda rin ng grupo na paikliin ang interval sa pagbibigay ng doses ng Sinovac at AstraZeneca vaccines.

“Ramp up vacination even while we’re on lockdown. We can still do it,” ani Rye.

“OCTA is exhorting government to focus on its plan, we believe its plan will work in which the NCR plus 10. I was told by Sec. (Carlito) Galvez some time in August, 2 million Moderna vaccines are coming through as a donation from the United States,” dagdag pa niya.

Samantala, inayunan naman ni Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Secretary Joey Concepcion ang panukalang ito ng OCTA.

“If the government, DOH Secretary Duque will push for a two-week hard lockdown, we will support it because we will prefer to solve the problem early and not wait for the problem to get bigger, then we will have to lockdown for months. That is the most catastrophic thing that could happen in our country if that happens in the 4th quarter,” ani Concepcion.

Una nang ipinahayag ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte sa kaniyang huling State of the Nation Address na kung kinakailangangan ay magpapatupad muli ng lockdown ang pamahalaan dahil sa banta ng Delta variant

Patuloy ang pakiusap ng mga awtoridad sa publiko na maging responsable, huwag magpakampante at magpabakuna na upang makaiwas sa mas mabagsik na Delta COVID-19 variant. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

Close to 3,000 contact tracers trained; 1,800 deployed — TESDA

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) has announced that the government has already trained close to 3,000 contact tracers and has deployed almost 1,800 of them.

During a virtual public briefing on Wednesday (July 28), TESDA Deputy Director-General Aniceto Bertiz said that aside from the programs allotted for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and individuals who lost their jobs to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, TESDA is also training individuals to become contact tracers.

“We were able to produce 2,978 contact tracers all over the country. Halos 1,800 of those are already hired sa mga local government unit (LGUs) (Almost 1,800 of those are already hired by local government units),” he said.

The TESDA official also said they continuously coordinating with LGUs and other industries for the new contact tracers to be hired especially amid the threat of the Delta variant.

Bertiz, meanwhile, said the free upskill training of TESDA will help in lowering the number of unemployed and underemployed Filipinos in the country.

Hinuhubog natin ang ating mga kababayan na magkaroon ng bagong kakayahan and at the same time, we are connecting them hanggang kabuhayan (We are honing our fellowmen to acquire new skills and at the same time, we are connecting them to have livelihood),” he said. -AAC

PH gov’t open to lockdown bid to curb threat of Delta variant — NTF

Robie de Guzman   •   July 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government is studying all options and proposals to prevent the further transmission of the more infectious variants of COVID-19 in the country, the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 said Wednesday.

During a televised public briefing, NTF deputy chief implementer Vince Dizon said the government is open to implementing lockdowns in Metro Manila amid increasing cases of COVID-19.

“Nakita natin ang experience ng ibang bansa at kailangang maghanda tayo dito; kailangan lahat ng options ay maging open tayo kung ano ang puwedeng gawin,” he said.

Dizon made the remark when asked to respond to the OCTA Research group’s suggestion to implement a two-week “circuit breaker” lockdown in Metro Manila after its COVID-19 reproduction rate climbed to 1.33.

He, however, stressed that the government needs to balance every aspect as further restrictions will make the economy bleed.

“Pero siyempre kailangan ibalanse natin lahat yan at napakahirap po ng mga desisyon na ganito lalo na sa ating mahal na pangulo. Kaya kailangan guided tayo ng ating mga eksperto at pipilitin nating makahanap ng balansyadong solusyon,” he said.

He also said that the best move right now is to prepare for the possible new COVID-19 surge by further strengthening the country’s healthcare capacity and speed up vaccination against COVID-19.

“Hindi ko po masasabi yan kasi unpredictable ito. Nakita natin ang nangyari sa ibang mga bansa, walang naging handa. Pero pipilitin natin na maghanda ng mga supplies na kailangan natin, maghanda ng ICU beds, regular beds at maghanda sa mas madami at mas mabilis pang pagbabakuna,” he said.

The Philippines has so far administered over 18 million COVID-19 shots. Over 6.8 million individuals have completed their doses.

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