COVID vaccination not a condition for Singapore-bound OFWs — DOLE

Marje Pelayo   •   June 8, 2021   •   432

MANILA, Philippines — Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) bound for Singapore are not required to get inoculated against COVID-19 before they are allowed into the city-state.

Labor Attaché in Singapore Saul De Vries said that vaccines are not part of the arrival protocols in the city-state but still the government of Singapore is implementing strict quarantine protocols due to the recurrence of COVID-19 cases.

“It is not a condition for OFWs to be inoculated before departing for their jobs. However, the Singapore government requires them to undergo a 21-day institutional quarantine and take RT-PCR test thrice,” De Vries said.

Following the recurrence of cases, De Vries said the Singapore government has temporarily suspended the entry approval applications of foreign workers from high-risk countries.

“Hopefully, such regulation or policy will be reviewed this coming July when cases of COVID-19 infection have slowed down,” he added.

Based on the Labor Department’s records, there are around 200,000 Filipinos in Singapore, 180,000 of whom consist of professionals, skilled workers, household service workers, healthcare workers, and those working in the service sector of the tourism and information technology industries.

De Vries also announced that POLO-Singapore has recently approved over 200 job orders (JOs) for vaccinators with a monthly salary, ranging from 1,800 to 2,000 SGD or equivalent to a little over P63,000.

“Aside from the 200 vaccinators, the demand for household service workers is still high in Singapore,” he added.

While it is not mandatory for OFWs to be vaccinated before they enter Singapore, De Vries said that migrant workers are included in the vaccination program of the government. OFWs are therefore highly encouraged to get inoculated, as this is the best way to fight the spread of the virus.

“I believe that most, if not all, of our OFWs in the healthcare industry have already been vaccinated, since they are included in the priority group listing,” De Vries said.

Despite the scaling down of POLO operations in Singapore, the office managed to distribute financial assistance of $200 or P10,000 under DOLE’s Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) program to OFWs who either lost their jobs or experienced wage reduction, as well as those who contracted COVID-19.

Food packs, essential hygiene kits as well as physical and mental health and wellness activities have been provided for migrant Filipino workers especially the distressed ones to help them cope with their daily lives while community quarantines are enforced.

DOH asks Comelec to find alternative ways for COVID-19 patients to vote

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 17, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to find alternative ways on how COVID-19 patients can cast their vote in the 2022 national elections.

DOH Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire reiterated that they will not allow COVID-19 patients to leave isolation to vote in the upcoming elections. She said this might lead to increasing the risk of virus transmission to other voters.

“Kailangan din isaisip dapat may alternative tayo for those who are COVID-19 positive para po sa botohan na ito. Alam po natin na ang isang positibong tao kapag lumabas po ng isang kwarto o ng isang lugar ay maaaring makahawa ng ibang tao, (We also need to look into alternative ways for the COVID-19 positive voters in this election. We do know that positive patients, once they leave their room or an area, can infect others)” she said.

The DOH official suggested going digital or online for COVID-19 patients.

“Sana po Comelec will have an alternative way of having these elections for those COVID-19 positive patients baka pwede naman pong virtual na lang, digital through SMS kung makakagawa po tayo ng ganitong proseso dahil talag ang ang Department of  Health po ay hindi po natin inirerekomenda na ang mga COVID-19 positive patients ay lalabas po ng kanilang isolation area to do this kind of activity, (I hope Comelec will have an alternative way of having these elections for  COVID-19 positive patients. Maybe it can be done virtually, digital through SMS if such a process can be done because the DOH will not recommend for COVID-19 patients to leave the isolation area to do this kind of activity),” Vergeire said.

Meanwhile Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez previously said that it would be a challenge to find alternative methods for COVID-19 patients to vote, however, he said the Comelec en Banc will discuss the process on how it can be done.

There are currently no guidelines allowing patients to vote in polling centers. AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

 

DOH: Quarantine alert levels system, posibleng ipatupad na rin sa mga lalawigan

Robie de Guzman   •   September 17, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Posibleng ipatupad na rin sa iba pang lalawigan ang ipinaiiral ngayong quarantine alert levels system sa Metro Manila.

Ayon kay Department of Health (DOH) Spokesperson Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, maaaring simulan ang sistema sa ibang probinsiya bago matapos ang buwan ng Setyembre.

“Pag nakakita tayo ng positibong resulta dito sa ginagawang pilot implementation, we may be able to roll it out to the rest of the country at maybe towards the end of September,” ani Vergeire.

“Every week, we will be assessing so that we will see yung progress natin. Ano yung pwedeng baguhin, ano yung pwede na nating i-retain, ano ang mga metrics na dapat pag-aralan at ano pa yung ways moving forward. So, it’s until Sept. 30,” dagdag pa niya.

Sa ngayon aniya ay tinututukan ng DOH ang epekto ng granular lockdowns sa ilalim ng alert levels system sa hawaan ng COVID-19 sa Metro Manila.

Sa tala ng DOH, nakakapagtala pa rin ang bansa ng mahigit sa 20,000 libong kaso sa isang araw dahil na rin sa pagkalat ng COVID-19 Delta variant.

“Ang alert level po dynamic iyan, nababago-bago po iyan. Hindi po iyan pwedeng mag stick ng dalawang linggo at hindi natin binago. Maaari po na after one week, mabago ang alert level. So we will be adding or we will be subtracting from this specific responses na meron tayo kaya po nagpa-pilot o sinusubukan,” ani Vergeire.

Kapag natapos na ang pilot implementation ng bagong alert level system sa Metro Manila ay ihahayag ng DOH ang mga ginamit nilang sukatan upang tukuyin kung ano ang kanilang batayan sa alert level classification na ipinatutupad sa isang lugar. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

 

FDA, may babala vs mga ospital na maniningil ng higit kaysa COVID-19 drug price cap

Robie de Guzman   •   September 17, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Binalaan ng Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ang mga ospital na maniningil ng higit kaysa itinakdang price cap para sa mga gamot na ginagamit para sa mga pasyenteng may COVID-19.

Sa panayam sa programang Get it straight with Daniel Razon, sinabi ni FDA director general Eric Domingo na maaaring patawan ng parusang pagkakakulong at suspension ng lisensiya ang mga ospital gayundin ang mga botika na nagbebenta ng COVID-19 drugs na mas mahal kumpara sa price ceiling.

Ginawa ng FDA ang babala kasunod ng mga ulat ng overpricing sa mga gamot na ginagamit sa treatment ng COVID-19 patients tulad ng Remdesivir at Tocilizumab .

“Pag ospital po, kwestyonable ang presyo, at least yung quality sigurado tayo dahil yung ospital hindi naman yan bibili, bawal po silang bumili sa unlicensed distributor. Pero mayroon silang pananagutan dahil lumalagpas po sila sa retail price na pinapayagan po ng DOH,” ang paliwanag ni Domingo.

Alinsunod sa kautusan ng DOH, nasa P8,000 hanggang P28,000 ang suggested retail price ng Tocilizumab na ginagamit sa treatment ng critical hanggang severe COVID cases.

Nasa P1,500 hanggang P8,200 ang retail price ng bawat 100 milligram vial ng Remdesivir.

Samantala, kaugnay naman ng pagkakaloob ng compassionate special permit o CSP sa COVID-19 drugs, inihayag ni Domingo na halos lahat ng ospital sa bansa ay may special permit na para sa isa o dalawang gamot kontra COVID-19.

Dagdag pa nito, hindi masyadong istrikto ang FDA sa pagbibigay ng CSP basta lisensyado ang ospital at mga doktor na gagamit ng gamot para sa COVID-19 patients.

“Actually lahat ng ospital ngayon sa Pilipinas, may special permit na sila for one drug or another, para sa ating COVID dahil talagang puno ng COVID-19 cases. At tayo naman po, hindi tayo very strict,” ani Domingo.

Ayon sa FDA, nade-desisyunan naman agad sa loob ng 24 hanggang 48 oras ang aplikasyon para sa CSP ng isang ospital. Maaari ding mag-apply in advance ng CSP ang mga ospital para sa COVID-19 patients nito sa pamamagitan ng email address na odg@fda.gov.ph.

Kaugnay naman ng investigational drug na Leronlimab, sinabi ni Domingo na wala pang price ceiling na itinakda ang pamahalaan dito dahil kakaunti lamang ang nanghihingi ng special permit para sa suplay ng gamot na ito. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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