Coronavirus divides lovers, friends at Swiss-German border fences

UNTV News   •   April 6, 2020   •   358

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)

IATF approves Phl participation in COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials

Maris Federez   •   May 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Upon the recommendation of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has approved the proposed participation of the Philippines in clinical trials that seek to formulate a potential vaccine against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Based on IATF Resolution No.39 dated May 22, 2020, the task force has also ordered the creation of a sub-technical working group which will be led by the DOST.

The group will be coordinating with the four collaborating organizations composed of the Department of Health (DOH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), and the World Health Organization (WHO) with regard to the said clinical trials.

The IATF has also issued a directive to the FDA to facilitate the processing of necessary permits for the conduct of the clinical trials in the country.

The collaborating organizations for the clinical trials are the Adimmune Corporation, Academia Sinica, Chinese Academy of Science- Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health, the Sinopharm – Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, and the Beijing Institute.

Once the clinical trials are undertaken, these will be included in the FDA’s requirements for the registration process for the vaccine and the application for certificate of registration to make the vaccine available in the market.

The Philippines has initially participated in the WHO’s clinical trials, which include the testing of off-label drugs that show potential of being effective against COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the IATF has also approved the plans of the DOST to construct research centers for the local vaccine research development.

These include the Virology S&T Institute at the New Clark City in Tarlac and the reactivation of the Pharmaceutical Development Unit of the DOST-Industrial Technology Development Institute. —(from the report of Rosalie Coz) /mbmf

Belmonte urges hospitals to assure safety of health workers

Maris Federez   •   May 14, 2020

QUEZON CITY, Philippines — Mayor Joy Belmonte appealed to all Metro Manila hospitals to exert more effort in protecting healthcare workers.

The local chief executive’s move was prompted by the data that showed high infection rate of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) among local residents who work in the city’s more than 50 public and private hospitals.

“We implore hospital owners and administrators to provide safer working conditions, more personal protective equipment (PPE), and free virus testing to their staff and medical professionals,” said Belmonte in a statement released on the city’s official Facebook page.

She also stressed that failure to do such measures would lead to more cases and would bring more harm to the healthcare workers and the whole city.

“They are already overwhelmed and exhausted. We must do our best to protect them as much as they care for our people,” she added.

Based on the Department of Health (DOH) May 11 data, 390 city residents who are healthcare workers have been infected with COVID-19.

This figure constitutes 24.7 percent of the city’s total COVID-19 cases, which stands at 1,578 as of the said date.

The same data also showed that many of the city’s recorded cases can be directly traced to health workers’ family and household members.

“Besides putting our own frontliners at risk, leaving them unprotected and untested may cause them to become carriers of the deadly disease to their family and community,” said Dr. Rolando Cruz, Head of QC-Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit.

He suggested that hospitals should consider providing their staff comfortable temporary housing facilities where the latter can opt to stay after duty.

“A safe and convenient facility where they can rest physically and mentally would be beneficial. Being away from their family for the meantime will keep them from worrying that they’re putting loved ones at risk,” said Cruz. — /mbmf

COVID-19 cases may increase during rainy season — Dr. Leachon

Marje Pelayo   •   May 13, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — It’s been raining lately and people are asking how would wet weather affect the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

According to COVID-19 Special Medical Adviser to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), Dr. Anthony Leachon, it would likely increase the number of COVID-19 cases.

Kapag tag-ulan kasi, pini-predict natin— dahil dikit-dikit— it will cause more problems kasi iyong social distancing ay nawawala kapag tagulan, (During rainy season people tend to move closer so we are predicting that social distancing measure will be ignored),” he said.

According to Dr. Leachon, there is no concrete evidence that weather affects coronavirus transmission because infections course through close contact with a carrier of the disease.

He emphasized that individuals evacuated to safety from flooding and the wrath of typhoons must strictly observe physical distancing, aside from proper hand washing and overall hygiene.

Kunwari mag-e-evacuation center ka, dapat may mask at alcohol doon at malalayo kayo (For instance, if you are staying at an evacuation center, you should have a mask and rubbing alcohol with you. You should also keep your distance from one another),” Leachon said.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) says that observing COVID-19 protocols is included in their preparations.

NDRRMC Spokesperson Mark Timbal explained that among the measures is separating the sick and well people at evacuation centers.

Health officials will also make sure to monitor evacuation areas during a tropical cyclone.

Meanwhile, Dr. Leachon added that the government is ready to face dengue cases.

I-prepare na ang kabahayan ninyo na walang masyadong papasok na lamok. Magdala kayo ng mga repellent at mga damit na mahahaba para hindi kayo makagat ng lamok (Prepare your house so that no mosquito would breed. Bring repellent and clothes that would protect you from mosquito bites),” he said.

Leachon advises the public to stay at home even during the rainy season especially if they have no important activity outdoors. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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