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

Robie de Guzman   •   April 27, 2020   •   1763

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.)

Healthcare workers involved in selling of blood plasma will face sanctions — DOH

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 11, 2020

Health workers will face sanctions if it is proven that they are involved in the sale of convalescent plasma of COVID-19 survivors, the Department of Health (DOH) warned.

Investigation of the Health Department showed several hospital staff in Cebu City are involved in the illegal trade of blood plasma. The DOH said there are only four facilities authorized to collect plasma from COVID-19 survivors: The Philippine Blood Center, Philippine Red Cross in Port Area, St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig and Quezon City, and UP-PGH in Manila.

Based on the DOH Administrative Order No. 36 Section 46, a medical professional proven to be involved in illegal activities could have his or her license revoked.

“Recommendation to revoke the certificate of registration or to suspend said certificate to practice the profession and to invalidate the professional license of any health professional involved in misrepresentation of facts or falsification of documents or records especially medical, laboratory or inspection results and certificates, or in violation of R.A. No. 7719 and the herein Rules, by the Professional Regulation Commission upon recommendation of the Secretary,” according to the administrative order.

DOH Spokesperson Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire reminds the public that buying plasma from unauthorized individuals is dangerous due to lack of proper screening by health professionals.

“Maraming sakit pa na nata-transmit if we sell our blood lalo na iyon mga hindi na screen (There are a lot of diseases that can be transmitted if we sell our blood, especially when it is not screened),” she said. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

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DOH reminds licensed laboratories to submit complete COVID-19 data

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 11, 2020

The Department of Health (DOH) has reminded licensed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) laboratories to submit their data on the deadly virus.

Based on the report of the DOH, out of 100 licensed laboratories in the country, only 70% have submitted the requirements for COVID-19 data on time.

DOH Spokesperson Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire said they are looking into the possible consequences for COVID-19 laboratories that are not compliant with the data protocols.

“If they are not compliant there would be some form of warnings and maybe suspension pinag-aaralan naming maigi,” she said.

Vergeire explained that the Health Department and COVID-19 laboratories have data reconciliation every week to ensure there will be no duplicates in the total number of coronavirus disease cases in the country.

The report also states that there are 3,177 backlogs in COVID-19 laboratories that are up for validation. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

House approves medical scholarship bill

Marje Pelayo   •   August 11, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – During an outbreak of a pandemic, the service of more healthcare workers is paramount. 

The Lower House of Congress acknowledges this importance, that is why on Monday (August 10), lawmakers approved on third and final reading House Bill 6756 or the Medical Scholarship and Return Service Program Act. 

The bill seeks to provide free education for aspiring doctors up to getting their professional license. 

Medical students will also enjoy free tuition and miscellaneous fees as well as allowances like books, supplies, equipment, clothing, dormitory and transportation. 

The bill also requires private and public colleges in the provinces to set up and offer medical courses.

Each municipality may accept one scholar or depending on the number that the Department of Health (DOH) recommends based on the rate of necessity for medical workers in a particular area.

To be eligible, an applicant must be a natural-born or naturalized Filipino; has taken a medical-related undergraduate course; has passed the entrance exam and the National Medical Admission Test.

Under the program, a scholar must take a board exam the year after graduation.

If he or she fails the exam twice, he or she will have to pay for the entire cost of a scholarship. 

Once the student becomes a licensed doctor, he or she has to stay in government service for six to seven years with a mandated remuneration and benefits.

If he or she refuses to serve in the government, he or she will pay the cost of the scholarship program twice the original value.

Failure to return the total amount will cause revocation of professional license. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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