Coronavirus divides lovers, friends at Swiss-German border fences

UNTV News   •   April 6, 2020   •   659

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)

FDA warns of text message offering COVID-19 vaccines at P50K

Maris Federez   •   October 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Thursday warned the public of a text message that has been circulating and is offering vaccines against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the amount of P50,000.

The text message is in Chinese, saying the said anti-COVID-19 vaccine is available in a clinic located in Makati City.

FDA Director-General Eric Domingo said he has also received the said text message and immediately had the message translated.

“Some of my friends na marunong magbasa ng Chinese ino- offer siya ng P50,000 per dose. Tapos dalawang doses ang ibinibigay. Napakamahal. Kasi talagang tina-target ng WHO dito cost ng bakuna is about $10 or P500 bawa’t isa,” said Domingo.

“Kung anoman itong ina-attempt ibenta na ito, kung fake ito o kung saan man ipinuslit ito, ay pinagsasamantalahan ang mga tao at ang mga willing na magpabakuna ng untested o unregistered,” he added.

Domingo, on the other hand, said that they have conducted an inspection at Centuria Makati Medical on Wednesday and have not seen any trading of the vaccine in the area.

“Iyong sa Centuria wala naman kaming nakitang dahilan na ifile- an sila ng kaso. Pero iyong DOH is also investigating kasi maraming clinic. So tinitingnan lang to make sure na iyong clinics na iyon ay gumagawa ng nararapat lamang sa kanilang lisensya or kung may lisensya sila o wala,” said Domingo.

The FDA reiterated that there is no COVID-19 vaccine that has already been approved to date.

“Huwag po kayong papatol sa ganito […] Kami po mismo ang magsasabi sa publiko kung ano ang registered, kung ano ang allowed, kung ano ang form nito, kung ano ang itsura nito para sigurado sila,” Domingo insisted.

“Tandaan po natin mabibili lang ang mga ito sa licensed din na mga outlet — mga pharmacy, mga botika na talaga pong may lisensya at maaari pong magbenta ng ganitong produkto,” he added.

Authorities are now ascertaining the source of the Chinese text message.

The FDA warns that a facility, establishment or clinic will face cease and desist order once proven that they are selling unregistered vaccines.

Individuals who will be found involved in the said illegal activities will also be slapped with criminal charges. — /mbmf

Duterte wants government-to-government deal for COVID-19 vaccines

Maris Federez   •   October 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte announced on Tuesday that he is more inclined to having a government-to-government deal in procuring coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines to prevent the risk of corruption.

The chief executive reiterated that the country will not beg other nations for access to vaccines, and that he favors purchasing vaccines from China or Russia. The two countries have submitted their applications to conduct clinical trials for their inoculations in the Philippines.

Hindi kami hihingi (we will not beg), we will pay,” Duterte said in a taped address to the nation aired on Tuesday (Oct. 27).

So maganda sana government to government ang transaction. Walang korapsyon, wala lahat kasi government to government (It would be better for the transaction to be government-to-government. No corruption, no nothing because its government-to-government),” he said.

Duterte also said that he had a meeting with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian on the status of their vaccine.

“We had a meeting with Ambassador Huang. He said the vaccine is there. It would be a matter of paano i-distribute (the manner of distribution) and what kind of transaction would it be for them and for us,” he said.

China’s Sinovac Biotech shall be starting the late-stage trials of its vaccine in the Philippines in November after the Food and Drug Administration has completed the evaluation of its application.

The Philippine government is also evaluating Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit for their application to conduct the Phase 3 trials of their COVID-19 vaccine.

Philippine authorities are also in talks with drugmaker Pfizer Inc. and with Moderna Inc. as potential suppliers.

The government has initially allotted $400 million to buy 40 million doses for 20 million Filipinos, as part of the administration’s plan to have the entire population inoculated.

As of Sunday (Oct. 25), the Philippines recorded 2,223 new coronavirus infections, and 43 more fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 370,028 cases, and 6,977 deaths. —/mbmf

DFA consular office in Lipa closed for disinfection

Robie de Guzman   •   October 5, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced that the operations in its consular office in Lipa City, Batangas is suspended on Monday, Oct. 5.

In an advisory issued on Sunday, the DFA said the temporary closure is to give way to the disinfection of office premises and implementation of other preventive measures to manage risks against coronavirus disease.

The consular office in Lipa will resume its regular operations on Tuesday, Oct. 6, it added.

The DFA advised those with confirmed appointments but are unable to avail of consular services due to the temporary suspension of operations to secure another appointment by sending a message through email with the following information:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Original appointment date and time
  • Preferred date and time of new appointment

The preferred new appointment may be on any working day, Monday to Friday from Oct. 6 to Nov. 6, 2020 during regular operation hours, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Applicants who need emergency or urgent consular services may contact CO Lipa by email at


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