COVID-19 ten times more deadly than swine flu — WHO

Marje Pelayo   •   April 14, 2020   •   585

GENEVA, Switzerland – The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced another reason why the new coronavirus should not be taken lightly by governments around the world.

In a virtual briefing on Monday (April 13), WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that compared to the swine flu that caused a global pandemic in 2009, the novel coronavirus which cause coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is deadlier than H1N1 or swine flu.

“We know that Covid-19 spreads fast, and we know that it is deadly, 10 times deadlier than the 2009 flu pandemic,” he said.

The WHO official notes that 18,500 people died of swine flu in 2009 but a Lancet study revealed the death toll actually reached between around 150,000 to more than 570,000.

The outbreak was declared a pandemic in June 2009 and lasted up to August 2010.

The WHO warned that while COVID-19 accelerates quickly, ‘it decelerates much slowly’ thus a vaccine would be necessary to completely stop transmission.

As of April 14, the global COVID-19 death toll logs at 118,966 from the total number of confirmed cases of 1,911,407.

Number of int’l travelers in PH down by 95% since start of quarantine – BI

Robie de Guzman   •   July 15, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The number of international passengers who entered and exited the country since the start of the community quarantine dropped by at least 95% compared to figures recorded in the same period last year, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said on Wednesday.

In a statement, BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said passenger arrival volume from March 16 to June 30 decreased by more than 96% while departure declined by 95% due to suspension of international flights and imposition of travel restrictions brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We do not foresee these statistics to rise in the near future while the entire world is still fighting to defeat this coronavirus,” Morente said.

In the same statement, Immigration Deputy Spokesperson and BI National Operations Center (BINOC) acting chief Melvin Mabulac disclosed that only 189,000 passengers arrived from March 16 to June 30, which is a far cry from the more than 5.16 million passengers who arrived in the same period in 2019.

He also said that only 238,000 passengers left the country during the period compared to the 5.18 million who departed in that time last year.

Mabulac said the bulk of passengers arrived and departed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) because all other international ports were closed during the lockdown.

He said it was only in June that the government allowed international flights to resume at the Clark and Mactan airports.

“Also included in these figures are the more than 16,000 seafarers who disembarked after being quarantined aboard their vessels anchored at the Manila Bay,” Mabulac said.

Health workers, not cops, will lead transfer of COVID cases to quarantine facilities, DILG clarifies

Robie de Guzman   •   July 15, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Wednesday clarified that it will be local health workers who will lead in the search and transfer to government quarantine facilities of suspected or COVID-positive cases who cannot comply with the minimum requirements of home quarantine.

In a statement, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said police will only be there to assist local government officials and health workers in the search and transfer of virus-infected individuals under the program, called “Oplan Kalinga.”

“Again, I wish to emphasize that the PNP’s presence in the conduct of the said program is purely for support and assistance to the LGUs who are taking the lead in defeating COVID-19 in the communities,” Año said as he dismissed claims of militarization since the military will have no role in this effort.

The DILG Chief said that he doesn’t understand why some quarters are speculating about the program since Republic Act 11332 or “An Act Providing Policies and Prescribing Procedures on Surveillance and Response to Notifiable Diseases, Epidemics, and Health Events of Public Health Concern,” specifies that collaboration with law enforcement is encouraged “to protect the people from public health threats.”

He said that Section 4 of the said law states that one of its objectives is expanding collaboration beyond traditional public health partners such as law enforcement entities.

“Itong ginagawa natin ay nasa batas. Sa pangangalaga ng kaligtasan at kalusugan ng ating mga kababayan ay maaaring makipag-partner ang local health authorities sa ating mga law enforcement,” he said.

He said that the local government unit, through its Local Epidemiological Surveillance Unit will be the one to visit the households with COVID-19 patients.

“Ang mangunguna dito ‘yung ating LGU at ang public health authority, pangungunahan ito ng city or local epidemiological surveillance unit kasi sila talaga ang mga expert dito. Pati’ yung resulta ng contact tracing, pati kung sino ‘yung tetesting, ililipat o ire-refer sa ospital,” he stressed.

He added that prior to going to residences, local officials already have the necessary list and identification of households with COVID-19 patients.

These patients will then be assessed if they can comply with the minimum requirements to be permitted to practice home quarantine.

The Inter-Agency Task Force earlier said that patients showing mild flu-like symptoms or asymptomatic are allowed to do home quarantine if he/she has a separate room where the patient can be confined; if the patient has his own comfort room; and if he/she is not living with people who are vulnerable to COVID-19 such as senior citizen and immunocompromised individuals, among others.

If these protocols cannot be observed at home, then the patient must be brought to a local quarantine facility.

Año assured the public that no rights will be violated as police officers’ presence will be limited to assisting in transporting patients and ensuring that lockdowns are imposed.

“We are very systematic naman in our approach. Bago pa pumunta sa lugar ay kumpleto na sila ng listahan at ng pangalan. Ito naman ay mga naka-PPEs (personal protective equipment) ‘yung ating health officials and health workers dito. Trained din naman ‘yung pulis para pumasok,” he said.

The DILG Chief urged the public’s cooperation by reporting households with confirmed COVID-19 cases and are currently practicing home quarantine despite not having the appropriate facilities. 

“Kailangan po nating ipaalam sa ating mga autoridad ang mga ganitong kaso para sila po ay mailagay sa tamang pasilidad at doon magpagaling. Ito naman po ay para rin sa kapakanan ng buong komunidad at nang hindi na dumami pa ang COVID-19 cases,” he said.

DPWH Secretary Mark Villar confirms he has COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   July 15, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar on Wednesday confirmed that he contracted the viral disease.

“I regret to announce that today, July 15, I received my test result and it is positive for COVID-19,” Villar said on his Facebook page.

Villar made the announcement a day after was designated as the government’s isolation czar.

His additional task involves putting up more quarantine facilities across the country amid the continued rise in coronavirus infections.

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