DOT announces reopening of Siargao Island

Maris Federez   •   November 21, 2020   •   113

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism (DOT) announced on Saturday (November 21) the upcoming reopening of one of the country’s premier destinations — Siargao Island.

In an advisory, the DOT said the teardrop-shaped island, known as the surfing capital of the Philippines, is set to welcome local tourists to its world-class white sand beaches, natural rock and cave pools, romantic sunsets, and wild water surf sites again on November 23.

The department said this was confirmed by Mayor Cecilia L. Ruson of the municipality of General Luna, Surigao del Norte thru a local executive order.

“This is encouraging news for everyone who loves the sea, especially the surfers. As Siargao reopens to travelers, subject to minimum health and safety standards, the people of the island will regain their livelihood and share their paradise to our kababayans once more with the same level of hospitality they have always been known for,” Secretary Puyat enthused.

The advisory added that with the resumption of flights to Siargao on December 1, “tourists can visit the country’s most well-known surf spots through Sayak Airport near the barangays of Del Carmen and Heneral Luna and discover a variety of hidden attractions.”

In compliance with IATF directives and local COVID management procedures, the Siargao LGU has set minimum health and safety standards and COVID testing requirements before tourists arrive on the island.

Tourists arriving via Surigao City/Sayak Airport will be required an e-Health Pass with valid ID; Negative RT-PCR result taken within 48 hours from point of origin; a five-day confirmed booking from an accommodation establishment with a Certificate of Authority to Operate (CAO) or Provisional Certificate of Authority to Operate (PCAO) from the Department of Tourism, and a round-trip ticket/travel details, the advisory further said, as part of the protocol.

However, if the RT-PCR is taken more than 48 hours of departure from point of origin, a negative antigen swab will be required on the day of arrival.

Tourists from the province of Surigao del Norte, on the other hand, will be required an e-health pass with valid ID; certificate from the barangay captain that traveler is not a close contact; confirmed booking from an accredited DOT-accommodation establishment (AE).

Meanwhile, hotels and resorts will be allowed to operate once they completed their business permit; a certificate of Authority to Operate (CAO) from the DOT; E-Health System Registration; E-Health pass or QR code reader and new normal protocols approved by the Municipal Health Office.

The advisory added that curfew will also be enforced from 11:00PM to 4:00AM. — /mbmf

IATF to ban caroling during holiday season vs COVID-19 spread

Robie de Guzman   •   November 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) will ban the conduct of caroling during the holiday season to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), a government official said Wednesday.

“Sinabi na ng IATF yung caroling, talagang ipinagbabawal natin,” National Task Force Against COVID-19 and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said in a public briefing.

The IATF has yet to release a resolution on the matter.

The Department of Health earlier said that singing loudly can spread the virus.

The government also reiterated its earlier call for the public to limit holiday celebrations to family members and to continue observing health safety protocols to curb virus transmission. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

AFP sends medical teams to Davao City to boost efforts vs COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   November 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has deployed a medical contingent to Davao City to augment efforts against the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and to increase the health system capability of the city.

The AFP Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) on Wednesday confirmed the arrival in the city of  the medical teams which are composed of doctors, nurses and corpsmen from the military Health Service Command.

LtGen. Jose Faustino Jr., commander of AFP EastMinCom, said they will provide billeting, security, and service support for the contingent during their deployment as Davao City is under the command’s area of responsibility.

The AFP sent medical teams after Davao City was classified as “restricted local government unit” due to the surge of COVID-19 cases in the area.

Faustino said the same medical contingent responded to Cebu when it recorded high number of coronavirus infections sometime in June to August.

“Together with the personnel from the AFP General Headquarters, Eastmincom marches forward in helping the government address the Covid-19 pandemic. We continue to provide troops in the frontlines with an unwavering passion to make sure that our forces are visible in every aspect of the health response,” he said.

Aside from providing medical support, AFP personnel will also assist in manning checkpoints, quarantine facilities and provide transportation facilities.

“Since day one, our troops have been manning the quarantine checkpoints, providing transportation services, and assisting quarantine facilities and will continue to do so to see to it that our medical frontliners are not alone in this battle,” Faustino said.

Faustino also said that the AFP has prepared standby teams to be deployed to other areas with high COVID-19 caseloads. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

Oxford COVID-19 vaccine ‘highly effective’ based on trial

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 24, 2020

The COVID-19 vaccine, developed by Oxford University and manufactured by pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, is reported to be highly effective based on the late-stage trials.

Over 20,000 volunteers participated in the trials in Brazil and the United Kingdom (UK).

Based on the trial, the vaccine can provide an average efficacy of 70% protection against the virus.

Researchers also said its protection rate can scale up to 90% efficacy rate when given as a half dose, followed by a full dose at least one month apart.

They also considered the results a success, even though the vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna are reported to be 95 per cent and 94.5 percent effective respectively.

However, researchers said the vaccine developed by Oxford is more affordable and easier to ship across countries.

The UK government already pre-ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine. AstraZeneca said they will manufacture three billion doses by next year. AAC (with reports from Jovic Bermas)

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