Coronavirus divides lovers, friends at Swiss-German border fences

UNTV News   •   April 6, 2020   •   783

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)

UK, Germany requesting more health workers from the Philippines

Marje Pelayo   •   February 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has increased the demand for health workers all over the world.

In the Philippines, the national government put in place a deployment cap of 5,000 health workers for 2021 to make sure that the country will have a sufficient number in case the COVID-19 infection worsens.

But the governments of the United Kingdom and Germany appealed to the Philippines to deploy more health workers given that the country is one of the top exporters of this field and expertise.

According to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), there is an ongoing negotiation on this request.

The Philippine government, however, has several conditions before approving the matter.

One is that the requesting countries, in return, should give the Philippines COVID-19 vaccines.

“Ang nire-request ni Secretary Bello ay para sa ating mga OFWs. So ito ang mga OFWs na na-repatriate na dito including yung mga OFWs din na papaalis,” explained DOLE Director for International Labor Affairs Alice Visperas.

The official said there are around 600,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were repatriated and some of them were redeployed.

“Karamihan sa mga bansa ngayon na kumukuha ng workers. Gusto nila may vaccine na yung kukunin nilang workers. Darating din ang panahon baka hindi na sila kukuha pag hindi pa nabibigyan ng vaccine,” Visperas noted.

Another condition is the renegotiation for Labor agreement in favor of OFWs in the said countries.

DOLE said the matter is now on the ministerial level and is, so far, receiving a possible response.

But the Filipino Nurses United seemed offended with the way the government is treating the country’s nurses.

“Sa FNU na turn off kmi, disgusted na parang commodities o export products trato sa amin ng gobyerno,” the group said in a statement.

“Two separate issues iyon. Kung gustong mag-abroad ng nurses karapatan nila iyon. Huwag gamiting trade off. Kung kailangan natin ng bakuna, mag procure,” it added.

The Philippine Nurses Association, on the other hand, supports the government on the matter but as for the number, there should be a careful study first as to how many nurses will be allowed to leave.

“Kung manggagaling yan sa government and merong benefit ang Pilipinas with that I think we should welcome yung idea,” noted PNA President Melbert Reyes.

“But it should make sure sana na may maiiwan dito sa Pilipinas to take care of our people,” he concluded. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

PH logs first fatality from UK COVID-19 variant

Marje Pelayo   •   February 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) reported on Monday (February 8) the country’s first UK- COVID-19 variant fatality.

“As to these 25 cases detected with the UK variant, we have two remaining active cases. We have one who has died and the rest, the 22 have already recovered,” confirmed Health Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire.

Based on the report, the fatality was an 84-year-old male from La Trinidad, Benguet who succumbed to the disease in January.

The DOH is still investigating as to how the man contracted the virus even when he rarely went outside his residence.

“Apparenlty noong kausap natin iyong regional office namin, they said that this person never went out or seldom. Pero hindi talaga. Nandoon lang daw sa loob ng bahay, walang ibang contact,” Vergeire explained.

“So tinitingnan natin kung ano po ang source of infection. Ano pa ang ibang circumstances,” she added.

Meanwhile, the DOH is thoroughly studying two other cases of the new variant in the Philippines considering that these two never had contact with other cases with the similar variant.

Nevertheless, the DOH said there is not enough evidence yet to declare a community transmission of the said variant in the country.

“Tinitingnan natin dito sa ating current na listahan. Meron tayong dalawa na mukha tayong walang link na makita, but further investigation is still required before we can confirm this,” Vergeire said.

At present, the number of UK COVID-19 variant cases in the country remains at 25. MNP (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Quezon City gov’t readies 10 initial COVID-19 vaccination sites

Marje Pelayo   •   January 18, 2021

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte

MANILA, Philippines — The Quezon City government is readying the 10 initial locations where inoculation of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines to its constituents will be held.

The designated areas for vaccination are as follows:

  1. Project 6 Tennis Court (District 1)
  2. Batasan Hills National High School (District 2)
  3. NGC Covered Court (District 2)
  4. Aguinaldo Elementary School (District 3)
  5. Dona Josefa Jara Martinez High School (District 4)
  6. Diosdado Macapagal Elementary School (District 4)
  7. Kaligayahan Activity Center (District 5)
  8. Fairview Covered Court (District 5)
  9. Emilio Jacinto Elementary School (District 6)
  10. Culiat High School (District 6)

“Pinili natin ang mga lugar na ito para madaling puntahan ng mga residente ng anim na distrito ng ating siyudad,” said Mayor Joy Belmonte.

“Nagsimula na tayong magtalaga ng vaccination sites para handa na tayo oras na dumating ang bakuna. We have to plan ahead to assure our people that we are doing everything to make these vaccines available as soon as possible,” she added.

Belmonte said the city government is targeting to establish 24 sites, in addition to the three city-run hospitals – QC General Hospital, Rosario Maclang Bautista General Hospital and Novaliches District Hospital.

City Health Department head Dr. Esperanza Arias said they have already identified the other vaccination sites but these are still being evaluated to comply with Department of Health (DOH) standards.

“The vaccination site must have unidirectional workflow or one entry and one exit, comfort rooms and ample space for free movement of staff and observance of minimum health standards,” said Dr. Arias.

Arias added that a standby generator set, an ambulance and presence of Barangay Health Emergency Response Team (BHERT) personnel are also required, among others.

”For every site, the QC government will designate 22 employees composed of physicians, marshals, vaccinators, counselors, and admin staff,” Arias said.

The city government earlier entered into a tripartite agreement with the AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals Philippines and the national government for the delivery of 1.1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

The vaccines are expected to be delivered in the third quarter of 2021.

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