DOH fails to report Sunday’s update on COVID-19 cases; cites ‘significant volume of data’

Maris Federez   •   July 12, 2020   •   423

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health failed to announce the department’s latest tally of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases on Sunday (July 12).

In a statement released late Sunday night, the health department said it will give the update on Monday morning instead, as it cites “significant volume of data” that they still need to process.

The statement said, “due to the significant volume of data gathered today as part of DOH’s efforts to harmonize data with the cities of NCR and the different regions, the DOH Data Team is still currently in the process of validating today’s numbers.”

“We also note that because of the volume of data being validated, based on initial findings we are seeing an increase in today’s number of reported cases, recoveries, and deaths,” it added.

The DOH said a “comprehensive report” on COVID-19 data for July 12 will be released at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, July 13.

Even with the delay in the update, the department said that it wants to be certain that the information they release is accurate.

“We recognize the importance of providing real-time information. However, in providing this information, we also make sure that said information is accurate,” the statement said.

As of July 11, the country has recorded 54,222 confirmed cases with 14,037 recoveries and 1,372 deaths.  — /mbmf

Cold chain group still awaits gov’t order on unified plan for COVID-19 vaccine storage

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Cold Chain Association of the Philippines (CCAP) said they are still awaiting direction from the national government on the unified plan for storing COVID-19 vaccines in the country.

CCAP president Anthony Dizon said they are still unsure if the government will seek out their services in storing vaccines. Dizon said they can provide 80 cold storage facilities to various areas in the countries.

“We are confronted with a national emergency for we have to have a plan that will be implementable nationwide. For planning purposes , it would be better if we sit down together,” he said.

Dizon added that local government units (LGUs) have been coordinating with several members of the Cold Chain Association of the Philippines for their own vaccine storage. However, a unified plan for all CCAP members will be more beneficial once vaccine distribution begins.

Preparations for the storage would include the number of vaccines that will be stored and how long the vaccines will be stored.

“We have received information that different LGUs have approached some of our members in certain localities and I am elated that certain LGUs have taken initiatives to do that but we are still awaiting the program direction from the national implementing agency,” he said.

Currently, several storage facilities are being used for meat and dairy products. Meanwhile, two cold storage facilities owned by Koldstor Centre of the Philippines in Cavite can already be used for vaccine storage.

For Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines however, Dizon noted only two cold storage facilities can be available for use. Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines would need a temperature requirement of -70 degrees Celsius. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Meralco reminds deadline for outstanding bills until Jan. 31

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Manila Electric Company (Meralco) has reminded its customers that the deadline for paying outstanding bills is on January 31.

Meralco Spokesperson Joe Zaldarriaga said the electric company already provided sufficient time since its disconnection policy was temporarily suspended to help customers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, Zaldarriaga said customers can still appeal for an extension through Meralco’s business centers.

He added that they are mulling over the recommended extension of the installment scheme in paying power bills.

We’ve already given iyong ample time. One year na ang—almost one year na magmula noong we stopped disconnecting since March and although, pinag-aaralan pa rin naman natin and on a case-to-case basis ay humahanap tayo ng paraan para tulungan iyong iba pang customers (We’ve already given ample time. Almost one year since we stopped disconnecting since March. Although we are still looking into ways to assist other customers on a case-to-case basis), he said.

Zaldarriaga also reiterated the importance of paying on time in order for the electric company to continue its operation and provide service to its customers. AAC (with reports from Asher Cadapan Jr)

EUA on Pfizer vaccine won’t be revoked yet despite Norway deaths, DOH says

Robie de Guzman   •   January 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The emergency use authorization (EUA) issued last week by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to drug-maker Pfizer-BioNTech for its COVID-19 vaccine will not be revoked yet pending an investigation into claims that it caused the death of some elderly people in Norway, the Department of Health (DOH) said Monday.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Norwegian authorities are still looking into reports that 23 individuals aged 75 to 80 with underlying health conditions died after getting inoculated with COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech.

Vergeire also said that studies need to be done on the matter.

“Pfizer has to submit a report to the Philippine Food And Drug Administration regarding this matter. Once we evaluate the report, base sa kanilang conclusion, that’s the time FDA can decide on the EUA of Pfizer. For now,” Vergeire said.

“Hanggang wala pang sufficient evidence that it was caused by vaccines, status quo tayo on this EUA given to Pfizer,” she added.

The FDA granted EUA to Pfizer last January 14, the first out of four applications it received so far. Other applications are AstraZeneca, China’s Sinovac, and Russia’s Gamaleya Institute.

FDA Director-General Eric Domingo said they are still awaiting a report from Norwegian authorities and that they will “revise the conditions of the EUA as needed,” before starting vaccinations as part of the agency’s protocols on the use of vaccines.

Health authorities also reiterated that COVID-19 vaccines will go through stringent evaluation before it can be approved for use in the country.

“Aside from the safety, and the efficacy na meron ang mga bakuna na papasok, titingnan din nila iyon pong social impact nito, titingnan nila ang affordability and titingnan nila sa response ng equity,” Vergeire said.

“They will be evaluating and then they give their recommendation to the Secretary. Kapag positive ang recommendation, we can procure the specific vaccine,” she added. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

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