CHED chair De Vera says he contracted COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   January 13, 2022   •   232

MANILA, Philippines – Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chairperson Prospero De Vera on Thursday said he has tested positive for COVID-19.

During the Laging Handa public briefing, De Vera disclosed that he and his family are currently under quarantine.

“Ako ay naka-quarantine sa bahay, ang aking buong pamilya ay infected,” he said.

In a  social media post last week, De Vera urged his close contacts to go on self-quarantine and monitor themselves for any symptoms.

The CHED commissioner said he is on his way to recovery.

“Pero dahil sa mga tumutulong sa aking mga doktor kasama ang pag-telemed, ako ay unti-unting gumagaling kaya medyo pagpasensiyahan ninyo na at medyo paos pa ang aking boses,” he said.

 

“No vax, no ride” policy sa NCR, epektibo lang sa ilalim ng COVID-19 Alert Level 3 – Malakanyang

Robie de Guzman   •   January 27, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Nilinaw ng Malakanyang na iiral lamang ang “no vaccination, no ride” policy sa mga pampublikong transportasyon sa National Capital Region (NCR) kapag nakataas ang COVID-19 Alert Level 3.

Ginawa ni Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles ang pahayag kasunod ng pagkwestiyon ng Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) sa polisiya na anila’y isang uri ng diskriminasyon.

Ayon kay TUCP spokesperson Alan Tanjusay, labag ang polisiya sa Republic Act 11525 na nagbabawal sa mandatory requirement ng vaccination card sa trabaho, empleyo, at sa mga transaksyon sa government offices, at serbisyo gaya ng public transportation.

Ito ay anti-poor at dapat maging patas ang gobyerno sa pagpapatupad ng polisiyang ito dahil kahit iyong mga ordinaryong rank and file na manggagawa ay mulat doon sa batas, mulat doon sa karapatan lalong lalo na ang freedom of choice. Mayroon silang karapatan kung ano ang mas makakabuti sa kanilang kalusugan para sa kanilang katawan,” ani Tanjusay.

Ngunit ayon kay Nograles, nakabatay sa mga ordinansa ng mga lokal na pamahalaan sa NCR ang pagpapatupad ng “no vaccination, no ride” policy ng Department of Transportation.

Ganito rin ang pahayag ni DOTr Undesecretary Artemio Tuazon at iginiit na malinaw naman ang panuntunan ng polisiya na hindi na ito ipatutupad kapag ibinaba sa Alert Level 2 ang NCR.

“Ang no vax, no ride policy under Department Order 2022-01 ay valid lang po sa loob ng NCR. Linawin ko lang po yun, yun po ay para sa NCR, dito lang po. At valid lang po yun, habang ang NCR ay nasa Alert Level 3, or mas mataas,” ani Tuazon.

“Kapag bumaba po ang ating alert level dito, masususpinde na po yung polisiya,” dagdag pa niya.

Nasa ilalim ng Alert Level 3 ang NCR hanggang sa Enero 31.

Sa weekend, inaasahang iaanunsyo ng Inter-Agency Task Force ang alert level status na paiiralin sa NCR para sa buwan ng Pebrero.

Palace welcomes survey showing drop in COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among Filipinos

Robie de Guzman   •   January 27, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Thursday welcomed a survey that showed a drop in COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among Filipinos.

In a statement, acting presidential spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the latest survey results mean that the government’s pandemic response is “a step towards the right direction” to restore normalcy.

Nograles issued the statement in response to the survey released Wednesday by the Independent pandemic monitoring OCTA Research team, which stated that 98 percent of Filipinos who have already completed their primary vaccine series did not contract COVID-19.

OCTA’s fourth quarter Tugon ng Masa survey conducted last December 7 to 12, also showed that the vaccine hesitancy among adult Filipinos dropped nationwide after five percent of respondents said they are not willing to get vaccinated against the coronavirus disease.

This is a significant decline from the 22 percent vaccine hesitancy recorded by OCTA during its survey conducted in the third quarter of 2021, from September 11 to 16.

OCTA conducted the poll using face-to-face interviews with a sample size of 1,200 adult respondents.

“We are encouraged by the latest results of the OCTA Research December 2021 Tugon ng Masa National Survey, which highlight two important points: first, COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among adult Filipinos dropped to 5%; and second, only 2% of adult Filipinos contracted COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated,” Nograles said.

“This is incontrovertible evidence that COVID-19 vaccines protect us, our loved ones, and our communities from the virus. It also emphasizes that vaccination is a step towards the right direction in our efforts to restore normalcy,” he added.

Nograles said that as of January 26, 2022, a total of 125,089,118 vaccine doses have been administered in the Philippines with more than 58.1-M Filipinos now fully vaccinated.

“Having said this, we will continue to explore different methods to make vaccines more accessible to our people – such as the Resbakuna sa Botika Drive and the We Vax as One Mobile Vaccination Drive for Transport Workers—as part of our goal to inoculate 90 million Filipinos by the end of the term of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte,” he added.

 

IATF urged to begin pandemic exit plan for Philippines

Robie de Guzman   •   January 27, 2022

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion and OCTA Research fellow and molecular biologist Nicanor Austriaco on Thursday urged the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) to begin formulating a plan to take the Philippines out of the pandemic.

In a letter last January 26 addressed to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles and IATF Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez Jr., Concepcion and Austriaco said that “it is time for the national government to transition our people from a pandemic to an endemic mindset.”

As an initial step, the two suggested the reinstatement of the international travel protocols in place prior to December 03, 2021, namely: pre-departure testing within 24 hours of departure using either an RT-PCR or rapid antigen test, with additional PCR-based test upon arrival; three-day quarantine; and arrival testing on the third day of quarantine, with exit permitted upon showing a negative result.

Concepcion and Austriaco noted that these protocols were already approved and being implemented but were put on hold when the Omicron variant hit the country.

“At this time, the Omicron surge has peaked in the National Capital Region and is expected to peak in the different regions of the country in the next two weeks,” they stated in the letter.

“In its wake, this surge will confer significant population protection throughout the archipelago,” they added.

The two also pointed out that a significant number of Filipinos have already acquired immunity from COVID-19, either through infection-acquired immunity or through vaccination.

“We put forward these suggestions as the country’s economic health is now a serious, time-sensitive issue,” Concepcion and Austriaco said in their letter.

They also expressed their belief that opening up the country to the world by easing and simplifying travel restrictions will “redound to many downstream benefits to the economy, especially the micro-, small and medium enterprises,” which make up 99.5 percent of the country’s businesses.

“Among the Asian countries, only the Philippines, Myanmar and Japan have the strictest travel restrictions,” observed Concepcion.

“The rest have either lifted curfews and stay-at-home orders, opened their borders to non-citizens and non-residents, and have allowed all or most commercial flights to the country,” he added.

Austriaco also thinks that Thailand’s “test-and-go” system might also be applicable for the Philippines since “it is now in a better place to do so after having had an Omicron wave.”

Meanwhile, Concepcion reiterated his earlier push to ease the country’s travel restrictions without compromising safety by scrapping facility-based quarantines and instead requiring only home quarantines.

He said travelers who have had COVID within 60 days can be exempted from quarantine to further decongest bottlenecks at quarantine facilities.

He also suggested re-allocating resources used in facility quarantines to “more intensive surveillance of positive COVID cases” among arriving passengers, saying this would generate more useful data in guiding future policy.

“The next few months will be critical in how the country will move on from the pandemic,” Concepcion said.

“I believe the government should set an example and start opening the country to the world. This will instill confidence in the vaccines and encourage more of our countrymen to take them,” he added.

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