DILG orders LGUs to prioritize PWDs in COVID-19 relief distribution

Robie de Guzman   •   April 17, 2020   •   491

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Friday directed local government units (LGU) to prioritize persons with disabilities (PWD) in the distribution of relief goods amid the enforcement of enhanced community quarantine against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said PWDs are part of the marginalized sector and should be given attention all the more during the COVID-19 crisis.

“The ECQ is more challenging to vulnerable groups like PWDs. The DILG urges LGUs to prioritize PWDs in distributing food packs, medicine, and vitamins,” Año said in a statement.

In Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 2020-066, provincial governors are enjoined to ensure that their city and municipal mayors shall include PWDs in their list of beneficiaries and indicate the recipients’ disability.

Barangay officials should make a list which will be submitted to mayors and governors. The data will then be forwarded to the DILG for consolidation of reports.

Barangays should also ensure that PWDs have access to adequate and nutritious food as provided by law.

“They should also allow the use of barangay vehicle for PWDs under emergency situation. Municipal and City Governments shall support the barangay immediately during such urgent situation should the barangay request for support,” the memorandum read.

The MC was issued by the DILG following reports received by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) from the PWD sector about their growing concerns amidst the Covid-19 situation in the country.

“PWDs may find it harder to protect themselves against Covid-19. Thus, I am prodding all local chief executives to provide for the welfare of PWDs for them to cope up with the impact of the ECQ to their lives considering that they have special needs,” Año said.

Batanes records first COVID-19 case

Robie de Guzman   •   September 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The province of Batanes on Tuesday said it has recorded its first case of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) since the pandemic started early this year.

According to Batanes Governor Marilou Cayco, the province reported its first COVID-19 case after a 29-year old resident who returned on Sept. 22 tested positive for the virus.

He has a travel history in Santa Rosa, Laguna. He returned to the province on board a Philippine Air Force plane with 18 others.

Cayco said the patient is asymptomatic and currently under isolation and monitoring of the provincial COVID-19 task force.

She added that all 18 individuals who had close contact with the patient have been subjected to swab test and are now strictly being monitored.

Batanes is currently under a modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) but the local government will recommend to place the province under a two-week GCQ to curb the spread of coronavirus disease.

Cayco said outpost checkpoints will also be set up in all municipalities to monitor and limit the movement of people.

Airport operations and commercial flights to and from the province will also be suspended.

“Medivac lang ang pwedeng pumunta dito in some emergency cases. Pero yung commercial flights pina-stop muna namin,” she said.

The local government reminds residents to follow health protocols such as the wearing of face masks and face shields and observe physical distancing. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dan Gersalia)

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DOH allows private companies to implement lockdown

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 29, 2020

The Department of Health (DOH) will allow private companies to implement lockdown in their offices or health care facilities to prevent coronavirus disease (COVID-19) exposure.

DOH Spokesperson Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire said aside from the minimum health protocols, private companies should also consider the mental health of their employees if they will implement a lockdown.

For example may mga ibang ospital (For example, there are hospitals) that would rather have their employees stay with them, they have their dormitory. Wala munang uuwi dito muna kasi kapag umuwi kayo sa community you go back at nadadala niyo ang mga impeksyon dito (No one will go home yet because, once you go home to your community and you come back, you might bring the infection here), she said.

According to the Health Department, the duration of the lockdown will depend on the agreement between the company and its employees. She also reminded employees that they can also decline being put into lockdown.

Hindi naman dapat pumayag din ang isang employee kung iyan ay labag sa kaniya. Mayroon naman silang ganoong karapatan kailangan lang po na naipapaliwang ng maayos (Employees don’t need to agree if they don’t want to. They have the right to do so. Things must be explained properly),Vergeire added.

The health official also reminded private companies to make sure that their employees understand the reason behind the lockdown, taking into account the difficulty of being away from their families especially during the pandemic.

Vergeire also said employees should also be able to talk to experts with regards to their mental health.

“It is okay not to be okay especially at this time during our situation in the pandemic. Okay lang po iyan lahat tayo nakakaramdam ng ganiyan (That’s okay, we all feel that). We just have to have that coping mechanism,” she said. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Filipino seafarers with COVID-19 in Western Australia now at 17

Robie de Guzman   •   September 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The number of Filipino crew members who have contracted novel coronavirus disease aboard a ship off Port Hedland has climbed to 17, the Department of Health Western Australia (WA) reported.

In a media release on Monday, the department said the eight new positive cases from the ship Patricia Oldendorff are part of the crew who were transferred to hotel quarantine.

“This brings the total confirmed cases associated with the vessel to 17 —seven aboard the vessel as part of the essential crew and 10 in hotel quarantine,” the Department of Health WA said.

The four remaining crew have tested negative, it added.

The ship is maintained by Filipino crew with 20 members and a captain.

“All crew members are in good spirits and have been able to contact family at home. Crew also have been provided access to culturally appropriate food by a Filipino chef,” the department said.

“Planning continues with the vessel operator, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and Pilbara Ports Authority regarding the safety of the vessel and potential replacement crew – if required. Daily cleaning of the vessel also continues,” it added.

The vessel arrived in Port Hedland on Sept. 16. Prior to their arrival, the vessel had a crew change in the Philippines on Sept. 5, according to the statement of the shipping company Oldendorff Carriers.

The shipping company said all crew members underwent quarantine process in the Philippines and yielded negative results when tested with PNA-PCR prior to joining the vessel.

Upon arrival in Port Hedland, the captain notified port authorities that two crewmembers were not feeling well.

“The authorities arranged for the crew to be tested and two crewmembers initially tested positive for the virus. Subsequent RNA-PCR tests have shown that 17 crewmembers have now tested positive,” it said.

The company assured that “all crewmembers on board as well as in shore-quarantine are feeling well with only a few seamen showing very slight infection symptoms.”

“We are very concerned about the health and wellbeing of our crewmembers and those caring for them,” it said.

“The authorities have been managing the situation with upmost professionalism. Every effort is being made to contain and improve the situation as quickly as possible,” it added.

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