Coronavirus divides lovers, friends at Swiss-German border fences

UNTV News   •   April 6, 2020   •   602

Constance, Germany, and Kreuzlingen, Switzerland, are divided cities these days, with a strip of grass and two fences separating them after the countries closed their borders to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

In a park on Lake Constance’s shoreline residents of both cities normally move freely across an invisible line marking where one nation ends and the other begins. But everything has changed: Most Germans cannot come to Switzerland, most Swiss are barred from Germany.

On Sunday, lovers, brothers and sisters, parents and their children, and old friends pressed against the chain links in the spring sunshine, just close enough to say “I love you”, too far apart to touch.

“This is our only chance to stand across from each other, face-to-face,” said Jean-Pierre Walter, a Swiss who drove an hour from Zurich to see his German partner, Maja Bulic. “We can at least speak to each other. That’s something.”

For weeks, they have telephoned or spoken over FaceTime. But fiber optic is no substitute for flesh and blood.

“At some point, you have to see somebody in person,” said Bulic, who drove 2-1/2 hours from near Heidelberg. “It’s difficult, but I know one day it will be different.”

This is a coronavirus no-man’s land. It traces the route of a barbed wire-topped barrier that split Switzerland and Germany during World War Two and that was removed long ago.

The fences have become a meeting point for people divided by the epidemic – and a reminder of its disruption for Europeans accustomed to traveling where they please. Switzerland is not in the European Union, but agreements allow Swiss and the bloc’s citizens to travel virtually unfettered, in normal times. (REUTERS CONNECT)

LTO sets up guidelines for registration of e-scooters

Marje Pelayo   •   September 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has pushed governments to impose transport restrictions to curb virus transmission among commuters.

As an alternative to common modes of transportation, the public resorted to old-school bicycles and its modern counterparts — the e-scooter and e-bikes.

Such vehicles have been helpful to some especially healthcare professionals and other essential workers who are spared from facing the hassle of commuting to work on mass transportation and the risk of infection that it entails.

“Iyong convenience ng e-scooter? Never na ako nag-commute ulit ever since October 2019,” said Syd Henrie Arriesgado, an occupational therapist who goes to work on his e-scooter.

“Pupunta ako sa work, nag-i e-scooter na lang ako,” he added.

Syd is one of the many individuals who now own such a vehicle but are not covered by any transport regulation at the moment. 

This is why, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) is now drafting a guideline that will regulate the use of e-scooters by updating the provisions of Republic Act 4136 or the Act to Compile the Laws Relative to Land Transportation and Traffic Rules.

Under the existing law, any vehicle that uses oil fuel or electricity must be registered and the owner should possess a valid license.

The LTO also stressed that the use of e-scooters must be governed by a certain law since it is small in size and requires balancing which is prone to accidents.

The agency is awaiting the approval of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) on the proposed guidelines.

“Una, kailangan may lisensya o rehistrado. Pangalawa, kung saan pwedeng gamitin, anong klaseng lansangan pwedeng gamitin. Pangatlo ano ang kailangang protective gear na suot nila para naman kung hindi ma-prevent ay mabawasan ang injuries,” explained LTO Chief and DOTr Undersecretary Edgar Galvante.

But an e-scooter advocate group, “Electric Kick Scooter” questioned the timing of the guideline’s release.

“I can’t really take it against LTO. Mandato ng Constitution but the thing is it’s really bad timing during this pandemic season. Ang mga frontliners ito ang ginagamit na mode of transportation,” argued Tim Vargas, the group’s chairman.

Galvante on the other hand, said, “Hindi dito iniisip ang ill-timing. Kung ang kino-consider siguro ay safety, wala ritong tamang timing.”

The LTO, however, cannot tell yet as to when the guidelines will be released, but assured the public of prompt issuance once DOTr greenlights the proposal. MNP (with reports from Joan Nano)

DOH records 3,311 additional confirmed COVID-19 patients

Maris Federez   •   September 21, 2020

Specimen collection for coronavirus testing

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) has issued a bulletin on coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) showing that the total number of COVID-19 cases was at 286,743, as of 4PM on Sunday, September 20, 2020.

This, after health authorities reported that 3,311 newly-confirmed cases added to the list of COVID-19 patients.

The DOH also announced that there are 20,021 recoveries which comprised of 625 from routine reports and 19,396 time-based recoveries. This brings the total number of recoveries to 229,865.

The statement also reported that of the 3,311 reported cases, 2,774 (84%) occurred within the recent 14 days (September 7 – September 20, 2020). The top regions with cases in the recent two weeks were NCR with 1,182 (43%), Region 4A with 555 (20%) and Region 6 with 299 (11%) cases.

The department has also recorded 55 fatalities due to COVID-19. This is comprised of 33 in September (60%), 17 in August (31%) and 5 in July (9%).

The report also showed 29 duplicates that were removed from the total case count. Of these, 14 recovered cases and 1 death have been removed. One case, on the other hand, was reactivated after further validation.

The report further showed that 28 cases that were previously tagged as recovered have been reclassified to deaths (25) and active cases (3) after final validation. — /mbmf

PH declares temporary import ban on pigs from Germany

Marje Pelayo   •   September 12, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Saturday (September 12) announced a temporary ban on the importation of domestic and wild pigs, pork products, and by-products from Germany.

In a press release, the agency explained that the ban was imposed after the confirmation of the first case of African Swine Fever (ASF) in Schenkendöbern, Spree-Neiße, Brandenburg, affecting wild boar, as confirmed by Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut (National laboratory). 

The import ban followed a report submitted by chief veterinary officer, Dr. Dietrich Rassow of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture in Berlin, to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), on September 10, 2020. 

Likewise, Agriculture Secretary William Dar also issued an immediate suspension of the processing and evaluation of the application and issuance of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) import clearance to domestic and wild pigs, pork products, and by-products from Germany.

Following the announcement of the temporary import ban, all shipments of pigs, pork, and pork products from Germany into the Philippines will be confiscated by all DA-Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) veterinary quarantine officers at all major ports of entry, the DA said.

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