DOH says fitness centers to remain closed even under GCQ; urges public to exercise indoors

Robie de Guzman   •   April 27, 2020   •   1582

MANILA, Philippines – Fitness centers will not reopen in areas that will be placed under general community quarantine (GCQ), the Department of Health (DOH) said.

In a virtual presser on Sunday, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they did not recommend yet to the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) the reopening of gyms and other fitness centers in places that may be downgraded to GCQ.

“Wala pong rekomendasyon ang DOH sa ngayon tungkol sa pagbubukas ng mga gym o fitness centers,” she said, adding that their reminder to the public to stay physically active amid the enhanced community quarantine means they should exercise inside they homes daily.

“Sa tuwing iminumungkahi po namin ang mag-exercise para palakasin ang ating resistensya, ang ibig namin sabihin dito ay ehersiyo sa loob ng ating bahay hanggat makakaya,” she said.

“Marami namang workout o exercise na maaring gawin sa loob ng ating tahanan,” she added.

Some people have been raring to go out and exercise outdoors since they have been cooped up inside their homes for more than a month now.

The Luzon island has been under enhanced community quarantine since mid-March to combat the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

It was initially set to end on April 13 but was extended to April 30.

Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte announced that Metro Manila and other areas with high number of COVID-19 cases will be under extended enhanced community quarantine until May 15.

Malacañang earlier said the extension of ECQ is still subject to re-checking and may still be revised by April 30.

Other areas with moderate or low risk from the virus will be subjected to re-evaluation on whether these will be put under GCQ.

Under the GCQ, certain areas in the labor sector may reopen in phases. Malls covering non-leisure shops, will also be allowed to open. Priority and essential construction projects may also resume.

Non-workers will be permitted to go out to buy goods and avail services except those pertaining to sector IV or leisure.

Public transportation will be allowed to operate at reduced capacity, and local government units are mandated to enforce night night-time curfew for non-workers.

For the option to shift to GCQ in moderate to low-risk areas, the task force recommended 100-percent opening of agriculture sector including fishery, forestry, and food manufacturing as well as all supply chain involving raw materials packaging, food retails, supermarkets and restaurants.

Fifty to 100 percent opening of the manufacturing sector was also recommended such as those engaged in electronics and exports, e-commerce and delivery for essential and non-essential items, repair and maintenance services, housing, and office services.

The IATF also considered up to 50 percent onsite work and 50 percent work-from-home for GCQ areas with moderate to low-risk. These include financial services, business process outsourcing (BPO), other non-leisure wholesale and retail trade, other non-leisure services.

Also under this condition, individuals aged 20 and below, as well as senior citizens under high health risk are advised to stay home. — RRD (with details from Correspondent Asher Cadapan Jr.)

DOH warns public on possible airborne transmission of COVID-19

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 10, 2020

The Department of Health (DOH) has warned the public on the possible airborne transmission of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Despite the lack of further studies, the Health Department said they are not dismissing the possibility that COVID-19 might spread in the air. They reminded the public to always adhere to the health and safety protocols.

Patuloy po tayong natututo tungkol sa SARS-CoV-2 at COVID-19. Kabilang na nga po dito ang mode of transmission o paraan ng pagkalat ng COVID-19 (We are continuously learning about SARS-CoV2 and COVID-19. This includes the mode of transmission of COVID-19). It’s an evolving science and new evidence continues to roll out,” according to DOH Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire.

More than 200 scientists urged the World Health Organization (WHO) to acknowledge the possibility of airborne transmission. According to a study, “viruses are released during exhalation, talking and coughing in microdroplets small enough to remain aloft in the air.”

The WHO previously dismissed the possibility of airborne transmission but said they will release a scientific brief summary regarding the collected data on the modes of transmission of COVID-19

“This is a respiratory pathogen and so it is important that what we know is it fits into the guidance that we have, which is why a comprehensive package of interventions is required to be able to stop transmission,” according to WHO Technical Lead on COVID-19 Pandemic Maria Van Kerkhove.

Meanwhile, the DOH said they will also review and verify the evidence and studies about COVID-19 in order to provide appropriate information and advisories to the public.AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Quezon City Hall of Justice closed after 4 personnel contract COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   July 10, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Quezon City Hall of Justice building and its annex will be temporarily shut down after four of its court officers and employees tested positive for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the city government announced on Friday.

The city government said Mayor Joy Belmonte ordered the closure of the buildings for seven days of until the city’s Epidemiological and Disease Surveillance Unit (QC-ESU) has completed the appropriate testing and containment measures.

In her letter to Regional Trial Court Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert and Metropolitan Trial Court Executive Judge Ace Alagar, Belmonte explained that her decision to temporarily shut down the Hall of Justice is to enforce measures during epidemic or outbreak to prevent spread of disease.

QC-ESU head Dr. Rolly Cruz said they will conduct exhaustive contact tracing of all those who were in close contact with the court officers and employees who were found positive and perform follow-up testing as necessary.

Suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases shall be placed on home quarantine or isolation in a quarantine facility as feasible under the circumstances, he added.

Meanwhile, the city’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (DRRMO) started the thorough surface disinfection and misting of the whole City Hall complex.

The agency said the disinfection began on Thursday and will last until Sunday.

Bolsonaro vetos law on obligatory face masks in Brazil

UNTV News   •   July 10, 2020

Digital: PART MUST COURTESY BRAZIL PRESIDENCY.

President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday (July 3) vetoed parts of a law that would have made wearing a face mask obligatory in enclosed spaces where large groups gather, as swathes of Brazil struggle to tame new infections of the coronavirus.

“Today there were various vetoes for legislation that spoke of the obligatory use of face masks, including inside the home. I vetoed (them). No one is going to enter a home and give a fine. I could also have got a fine because I am now without a mask,” he said.

Bolsonaro has regularly flouted social distancing guidelines advised by most health experts, shaking hands and embracing supporters. He has said publicly that his past as an athlete makes him immune to the worst symptoms of the virus.

He has also been widely criticised by health experts for downplaying the severity of the virus which he has dismissed as just “a little flu.” Bolsonaro has pressured governors and mayors for months to reverse lockdown measures and reopen the economy.

Bolsonaro’s veto comes as Brazil nears 1.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday. The virus continues to ravage Latin America’s largest country even as cities reopen bars, restaurants and gyms sparking fears infections will keep rising.

Brazil has the world’s second largest outbreak after the United States and the virus has killed over 60,000 people in the country.

In Rio alone, more than 6,600 people have died of COVID-19 in the past four months. Only 14 countries in the world have a death toll higher than the city. Intensive care units in public hospitals are at 70% capacity.

Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest and worst-hit city, is expected to open bars and restaurants next week. (Reuters)

(Production: Sergio Queiroz, Leonardo Benassatto, Pablo Garcia, Leandra Camera, Paul Vieira)

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