DOH still seeking evidence on animal-to-human COVID-19 transmission

Maris Federez   •   November 8, 2020   •   760

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) is still looking for evidence that could back up a claim of an animal to human transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

This, following reports that Denmark has imposed strict measures after issuing a warning that a mutation of the virus had jumped from minks to humans and infected 12 people.

The DOH said it doesn’t have sufficient proof in the studies by health experts in other countries if such transmission could occur.

“Lahat po iyan ay sinusuri natin, humahanap po tayo ng sapat na ebidensya, para kung makikita natin na talagang may direct link at makakapagbigay ang mga eksperto natin ng kanilang mga rekomendasyon, atin pong ilalagay sa ating protocol, pero sa ngayon pinag aaralan pa rin po natin iyan,” said DOH spokesperson Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire.

The World Health Organization (WHO), meanwhile, said that it is possible that the virus could evolve or mutate in animals such as minks.

The WHO added that mink farms must have biosecurity so that humans will not have contact with minks.

“Mammal species like mink are very good hosts in a sense and the virus can evolve in those species, especially if there are large numbers packed closely together,” said Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme.

“So in that sense we have to look at the viral evolution. We have to create biosecurity around farms like that, so that there’s not that contact back with human populations,” Ryan added.

The DOH also said that although there is still no clear evidence of the said mutation, the public must remain vigilant and responsible until the pandemic has been addressed.

“Iyon pa rin po ang ating iaadvise. Kung sakaling may sapat na ebidensya nga iyang sa hayop mapupunta sa tao, iyon pa rin po yung ating minimum health standards. Palagian pa rin po tayong naka-mask. Lagi pa rin maghuhugas ng kamay.  Iyan naman po ay mga gold standard natin para ma-prevent po natin ang infection,” Vergeire said. —/mbmf

OFWs for repatriation decide to stay after getting COVID-19 vaccine shot – Bello

Marje Pelayo   •   January 27, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III reported that some overseas Filipino workers (OFW) have taken back their decision to fly home to the Philippines after getting a shot of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine.

Most of them who preferred to stay are OFWs in the Middle East.

Bello said they believe they would have greater chances to get another job since they were already vaccinated. 

“Mayroong mga almost about 100,000 who applied for repatriation. Iyon ang nire-repatriate pa natin,” Bello noted.

“Nabigla kami bilang mayroon siguro around 60% of those who asked for repatriation suddenly changed their minds and said, “No, hindi na kami uuwi”. Tinanong natin kung bakit, iyon pala na-vaccinate na sila,” he added.

The Department of Labor and Employment has, so far, logged around 420,000 repatriated overseas Filipinos since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Around 60,000 OFWs are on queue for repatriation this year and the agency still has a P5-B fund for this from President Rodrigo Duterte. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

PH gov’t to tap service provider for COVID-19 vaccine info management system

Robie de Guzman   •   January 27, 2021

MANILA, Philippines The Philippine government will tap the services of a third-party service provider for the country’s COVID-19 vaccine information management system (VIMS), Malacañang said on Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, in a statement, said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has authorized the Department of Information and Communications (DICT) to perform actions necessary to procure the services of a qualified third-party service provider to cater to all services pertaining to the design approval, IT project implementation, and service management of VIMS.

This to ensure the accurate, timely, and efficient distribution and administration of the COVID-19 vaccines, Roque added.

The IATF also mandated the DICT to formulate the standards to ascertain the qualifications of the third-party service provider in undertaking the required services in the VIMS.

According to Roque, the functions of the Philippine COVID-19 VIMS shall include citizen vaccination capture and automation; provide management and automation; supply chain management; and vims dashboarding, reporting, and analytics.

It shall be the key process automation and data capture, storage, processing, and analytics system for the immunization and administration and supply chain management of the COVID-19 vaccines, he added.

The government is eyeing to roll out its COVID-19 mass vaccination program in February.

IATF approves mandatory 5th-day testing for inbound travelers

Marje Pelayo   •   January 27, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) issued a resolution on Wednesday (January 27) allowing the mandatory 5th-day test for inbound travelers. 

This means all travelers arriving in the Philippines must wait for five days in isolation before they are tested for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in line with the recommendation by the Department of Health (DOH).

The DOH believes such a measure is more effective in detecting and determining if a traveler is a COVID-19 carrier or not.

“For efficiency, for government and also to be more rational in doing things, atin pong ginawa ito. Pero kung sila ay may nararamdaman na o di kaya ay may high suspicion. Meron siyang sakit na ito, siya po ay kailangang i-test,” said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

DOH said it is important for each traveller to be isolated to prevent potential transmission of the virus while they are waiting for their turn to be tested.

“Pero ang kailangan natin maintindihan, iyong ating prinsipyo na isolation first, as long as we isolate them even though they are positive we are assured na naco-confine lang doon sa kwartong yun ang sakit at hindi po makakapanghawa kaya isa rin po iyan na nakalagay sa ating resolution na kailangan walang cohorting,” Vergeire said.

Once they are tested negative, they will be endorsed to their respective local government units and serve the 14-day mandatory quarantine period in their areas of destination.

The new testing and quarantine protocols aim at preventing further spread of the more contagious UK variant and possible entry of other variants of COVID-19 into the country.

Meanwhile, based on DOH’s update over 600 individuals who have close contacts with the 13 UK variant positive cases in the Cordillera Administrative Region have been identified.

Also, the DOH has identified a number of returning overseas Filipino workers who arrived in the region and has been waiting for the result of their tests whether they are positive or negative of COVID-19.

“Contacts na nakita na po nila. First, second and third-generation contacts,” Vergeire said,

“Also, nakapagusap na rin po sila. They have reviewed itong triaging system ng CAR. Nakakita na rin sila ng 8 na OFWs na bumalik po sa bansa at pumasok po dito sa lugar na ito,” she added.

Still, the DOH maintained that it is early to declare the situation in the region as community transmission. MNP (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

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