DOH sees clustering of COVID-19 cases in over 400 areas nationwide

Robie de Guzman   •   July 9, 2020   •   238

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday reported it has monitored around 488 clustering of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in different areas in the country.

The DOH said this means that an active transmission of virus is happening in these areas.

As of July 8, the department said that 379 of the clusters were reported in communities, 46 in health facilities, 24 in jails, and 39 in other areas.

The DOH also reported clustering of cases in the Metro Rail Transit (MRT), at a construction site in Metro Manila and several barangays across the country.

It also said that event-based report showed that Metro Manila had six new barangays with clustering, and one each in Cebu City, Mandaue City, Palawan, and Albay.

As of Wednesday, the Philippines has recorded a total of 50,359 cases.

The DOH surmised that the continued increase in coronavirus infections in the country is not just attributed to improved testing as it may also be due to the clustering of cases and community transmission.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the spike in cases, especially in Metro Manila, is also probably due to increased physical contact following the easing of quarantine restrictions.

“Maaaring ang pagtaas ng mga cases sa Metro Manila ay dahil sa increased testing capacity at community transmission na ating nararanasan nang simulan ang pag ease ng community restrictions,” she said.

“Lalong napaiigting ang community transmission kung lax o hindi natin sinusunod ang minimum public health standards,” she added.

Vergeire said they are now closely monitoring possible clustering of coronavirus cases in different areas of the country.

The country’s coronavirus cases rose to 50,359 on Wednesday after the DOH reported additional 2,539 cases. The agency said that 1,922 of this figure were fresh or newly-validated while 617 were reported late.

The DOH also reported a total of 12,588 recovered patients and 1,314 fatalities.

Vergeire reiterated the agency’s appeal to the public to be more cautious and strictly observe health protocols such as the wearing of face mask, frequent handwashing and social distancing.

“This is our call to everybody, whether you be in the private or public sector. If you are going out and exposing yourself and your loved ones to an unseen enemy, protect yourself. by doing so, you protect your family, you protect your community, you protect the nation,” she said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

PH may possibly ‘flatten the curve’ if MECQ extends for two more weeks – Experts

Marje Pelayo   •   August 10, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) believes that the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) needs to be extended for two more weeks for the government to assess its effectiveness in containing the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) transmission.

According to DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, it is still early to conclude if quarantine restrictions could be lifted or extended in areas under MECQ as they have many factors to consider before they can decide on what could happen after the two-week MECQ. 

“Hindi natin masasabi pa sa ngayon kung ano na talaga ang nangyayari [We cannot tell what will happen as of yet],” Vergeire said.

“We will see the effect maybe three weeks to one month kasi may 14 days incubation period. May nadagdag ba? Nakahinga ba ang ating health system dito sa two weeks na nakapag- recalibrate tayo [We will see the effect maybe three weeks to one month given the 14-days incubation period. Did the number increase? Was our health system able to breathe in these two weeks that we were able to recalibrate]?” she added. 

Vergeire said, for now, they cannot really tell if the National Capital Region (NCR) can be reverted to general community quarantine (GCQ).

Meanwhile, experts are still studying the rate of COVID-19 cases in the country and the current capacity of hospitals. 

Usec. Vergeire also noted the importance of active participation of local government units (LGU) to curb the spread of COVID-19 in communities, especially in clustered barangays in the NCR.

“Hirap pa tayo magbigay sa ngayon [We cannot conclude yet at the moment]. It is not just the cases that we are looking for during assessment. Tingnan din natin capacity ng health system [We should also look at the capacity of our health system],” Vergeire noted.

The UP OCTA Research group, on the other hand, said their case projection has slowed down because of the government-imposed MECQ. 

From 200,000, their case projection lowered to about 170,000 to 190,000 cases.

According to Dr. Guido David, the COVID-19 R-Naught or rate of transmission has dropped since the implementation of MECQ when most of the people are confined in their homes.

The group believes that if the MECQ is further extended, the Philippines might achieve the flattening of the curve. 

“It’s very possible even by end of August pwede nang ma- flatten ang curve, pero [the curve can be flattened but] like I said, flattening of the curve at the end hindi ibig sabihin katapusan na ito [doesn’t mean it’s over],” David said.

Hopefully, kapag nag- flatten ang curve maybe we can already sustain it kapag nag- GCQ na tayo [Hopefully, when the curve is finally flattened, we can already sustain it once we shift to GCQ],” he added.

Dr. David noted that although the community quarantine has been an enormous help in containing the virus, the most important still is the overall effort and collaboration of the public and those who enforce the minimum health protocols, especially the wearing of face masks. 

The DOH, meanwhile, advised the public particularly those with elderly family members and immunocompromised individuals to always wear masks even inside the house and maintain social distancing to curb COVID-19 transmission. –MNP (with details from Aiko Miguel)

DOH explains COVID-19 recoveries are symptoms-based, not test-based

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 31, 2020

All the mild and asymptomatic cases that had undergone quarantine for 14 days have been considered recovered after not exhibiting any symptoms of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), according to the Department of Health (DOH).

The DOH said this policy is the global standard where symptoms-based is used and not test-based in declaring a recovered COVID-19 patient.

Kapag asymptomatic po siya after 14 days without symptoms, they can already be tagged as recovered pwede na po siyang mag- trabaho (If he is asymptomatic after 14 days without symptoms, he can already be tagged as recovered and resume work), according to DOH Usec. Rosario Vergeire.

Still, Vergeire said that it is important that a recovered individual should have an assessment from a physician confirming his recovery.

The number of daily recoveries went up to over 38,000 on Thursday (July 30), with a total of 65,054 recovered cases. The daily number of cases, meanwhile, went over 3,000.

The DOH said the ‘mass recoveries’ and surge of cases is due to the ‘reconciliation efforts’ of the department to consolidate its data with the data of local government units (LGUs) through Oplan Recovery.

Oplan Recovery is the DOH’s initiative to monitor the status of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country. –AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

DOF assures enough funds for free COVID-19 vaccine for 20M Filipinos

Robie de Guzman   •   July 31, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Finance (DOF) assured that the Philippine government has enough funds to purchase millions of doses of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine once it becomes available.

In a briefing in Malacañang aired on Friday, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said they have prepared a financing plan to procure COVID-19 vaccines with the help of the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC).

The PITC, an agency under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) engaged in trading and bulk importation of essential goods for the government, has been tasked to manage the financing efforts for the vaccines.

Researchers and scientists across the world are racing to develop vaccines against the viral respiratory disease as cases continue to spike.

Dominguez said a COVID-19 vaccine could be approved by December this year.

He said the vaccines will be purchased through the PITC and turned over to the DOH.

“Once that happens, the Department of Health now will put in their budget to pay these 400 million dollars or roughly P20 billion,” the finance chief said.

“We can pay them over 2 or 3 years, so babayaran lang nila with the financing companies which is LandBank and DPB, so kayang-kaya ng DPB at ng LandBank na i-finance itong purchase ng COVID vaccine,” he added.

This way, DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said, the government won’t have to sell properties to finance the purchase of vaccines.

“Kaya po ipinapadaan sa PITC, Philippine International Trade Corporation, dahil para po sila po ang in effect directly na manghihiram mula sa DPB and LandBank,” he said.

“’Yung sinasabi ni Sec. Domiguez, ang may pondo na magpapahiram dito po sa isang government corporation who will execute the importation or the buying ng mga vaccines na ito, para po ang PITC ang magsu-supply sa DOH,” he added.

The vaccines will be administered to the poorest 20 million Filipinos for free.

If each of the 20 million poor Filipinos will need two shots, Dominguez said an estimated P20 billion fund would be needed.

The DTI, however, clarified that this figure is only initial and will be increased based on DOH’s recommendation.

Private companies wanting to secure financing to procure COVID-19 vaccines may do so through the PITC, Secretary Lopez said.

“Maaaring intial po yun dun sa poorest of the poor na communities. Of course, beyond that ang private sector naman po pwede ring makabili padaanin din dito sa PITC para makakuha ng tayo ng volume purchasing o volume discount,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Joan Nano)

REACH US

The Philippine Broadcast Hub

UNTV, 915 Barangay Philam,

EDSA, Quezon City M.M. 1104

(+632) 8396-8688 (Tel)

info@untv-newsandrescue.com (General inquiries)

ABOUT UNTV

UNTV is a major TV broadcast network with 24-hour programming. An Ultra High Frequency station with strong brand content that appeal to everyone, UNTV is one of the most trusted and successful Philippine networks that guarantees wholesome and quality viewing experience.