Comelec suspends voter registration until March 31 due to COVID-19 threat

Robie de Guzman   •   March 10, 2020   •   699

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has suspended the voter registration until March 31 amid the rising number of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections in the country.

In a statement, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez announced that the suspension will begin on Tuesday, March 10.

“As a response to the growing threat to public health posed by COVID-19, voter registration has been suspended by the Comelec until the 31st of March 2020,” he said.

Jimenez said the suspension takes effect nationwide, encompassing voter registration conducted in all Comelec offices in districts, cities, and municipalities, as well as all satellite registration activities.

“The public is advised to take all necessary precautionary measures to limit their exposure to the possibility of COVID-19 infection,” he added.

The poll body opened the voter registration for the 2022 national elections last January. It was initially set to run until September 30, 2021.

As of posting time, the Philippines has 33 confirmed coronavirus cases.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier declared a public health emergency amid the rising cases of COVID-19 infections in the country.

The DOH also raised Code Red Sublevel 1 after confirming the country’s first case of coronavirus local transmission.

Filipino seafarers with COVID-19 in Western Australia now at 17

Robie de Guzman   •   September 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The number of Filipino crew members who have contracted novel coronavirus disease aboard a ship off Port Hedland has climbed to 17, the Department of Health Western Australia (WA) reported.

In a media release on Monday, the department said the eight new positive cases from the ship Patricia Oldendorff are part of the crew who were transferred to hotel quarantine.

“This brings the total confirmed cases associated with the vessel to 17 —seven aboard the vessel as part of the essential crew and 10 in hotel quarantine,” the Department of Health WA said.

The four remaining crew have tested negative, it added.

The ship is maintained by Filipino crew with 20 members and a captain.

“All crew members are in good spirits and have been able to contact family at home. Crew also have been provided access to culturally appropriate food by a Filipino chef,” the department said.

“Planning continues with the vessel operator, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and Pilbara Ports Authority regarding the safety of the vessel and potential replacement crew – if required. Daily cleaning of the vessel also continues,” it added.

The vessel arrived in Port Hedland on Sept. 16. Prior to their arrival, the vessel had a crew change in the Philippines on Sept. 5, according to the statement of the shipping company Oldendorff Carriers.

The shipping company said all crew members underwent quarantine process in the Philippines and yielded negative results when tested with PNA-PCR prior to joining the vessel.

Upon arrival in Port Hedland, the captain notified port authorities that two crewmembers were not feeling well.

“The authorities arranged for the crew to be tested and two crewmembers initially tested positive for the virus. Subsequent RNA-PCR tests have shown that 17 crewmembers have now tested positive,” it said.

The company assured that “all crewmembers on board as well as in shore-quarantine are feeling well with only a few seamen showing very slight infection symptoms.”

“We are very concerned about the health and wellbeing of our crewmembers and those caring for them,” it said.

“The authorities have been managing the situation with upmost professionalism. Every effort is being made to contain and improve the situation as quickly as possible,” it added.

DILG tells LGUs: Endorse mild, asymptomatic COVID-19 patients to Oplan Kalinga facilities

Robie de Guzman   •   September 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Monday urged local government units (LGU) in Metro Manila to endorse to Oplan Kalinga quarantine facilities mild and asymptomatic novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients that could no longer be accommodated in local isolation centers.

In a statement, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said there now 4,000 beds available in Oplan Kalinga facilities due to the increase in discharges or recoveries in the previous weeks.

“We urge all Metro Manila LGUs to endorse patients which they can no longer accommodate in their local isolation facilities to endorse them to the Mega TTMFs and Oplan Kalinga Hotels which now has some 4,000 beds available because many have already been discharged,” he said.

Año said this is in compliance with Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Resolution No. 74 which states that all confirmed mild and asymptomatic COVID-19 patients are required to isolate in government-approved facilities, except those who are vulnerable or have comorbidities as certified by a local health officer.

Also exempted in this rule are confirmed mild and asymptomatic COVID-19 patients in areas where the government-recognized isolation centers are in full capacity.

“Meron tayong mga Mega Quarantine Facilities and 31 COVID hotels na kung saan puwede sila mag-isolate. Importante kasi talaga na mailabas sila sa bahay kasi nakahahawa sa pamilya,” the DILG chief said.

According to DILG spokesperson, Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, LGUs can coordinate directly with the One Hospital Command Center (OHCC) located at the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) which was created to facilitate a comprehensive and coordinated response to the pandemic by ensuring an efficient health facility referral in Metro Manila.

Malaya said that with the establishment of the OHCC, LGUs and individuals can now easily locate hospitals or isolation facilities near them.

The DILG said the command center is open 24/7 and individuals needing treatment may call the OHCC hotlines at 0927-728-0750, 0927-728-0753, 0927-728-0755, and 0927-728-0798.

Individuals needing assistance from the OHCC may also download the PureForce Citizens App via Google Play Store or App Store, it added.

Facility-based isolation for asymptomatic, mild COVID-19 cases now mandatory

Marje Pelayo   •   September 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) is now requiring facility-based isolation for confirmed asymptomatic and mild coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases through IATF Resolution 74.

The new policy however, exempts patients who are considered vulnerable or having comorbidities and their home meets the conditions specified in the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Joint Administrative Order 2020-0001. 

Likewise, another exception is when the Ligtas COVID-19 Centers within the region are fully occupied and the local government unit does not have sufficient isolation facilities.

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