Duque clarifies remark, says PH in ‘1st major wave of sustained transmission’

Robie de Guzman   •   May 22, 2020   •   211

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III has clarified that the country is currently experiencing its “first major wave of sustained transmission” of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Duque issued the clarification a day after he stated in a Senate hearing Wednesday that the Philippines is on its second wave of COVID-19 infections.

“Ikinorek ko na nga rin po ang aking sarili na this is the first major wave of a sustained community transmission,” the DOH chief said during a virtual meeting with the House committee on health where he was asked to explain his statement.

Duque, however, maintained that his statement during the Senate hearing was a “casual expression of an epidemiological fact.”

“Indeed, there was a first wave but very small which consisted of just three imported cases in January,” he said, referring to the country’s first three cases, all of whom are Chinese national who travelled from the pandemic’s source, China’s City of Wuhan.

“Then we had nothing for February, and then this was followed by a bigger wave which is now what we consider as first major wave of sustained community transmission,” he added.

“Ang mahalaga po rito, que ito po ay first o second wave, ay iangat natin ang kapasidad po ng ating system mentras napababa natin ang bilang ng mga bagong kaso kada araw,” he further stated.

Duque’s earlier remark triggered public confusion, and prompted Malacañang to clarify his claim.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that the country is still in the first wave of infections and that Duque should have informed President Rodrigo Duterte about his interpretation of the COVID-19 data.

The DOH also apologized over the confusion that the Health chief’s statement had caused.

Dr. Beverly Ho, director of DOH Health Promotion and Communications Service, said the country is still on its first wave, at least the one driven by local community transmission.

“Kung matatandaan nyo po, local community transmission happened nung nagsimula po tayong mag-report ng cases ng mga kababayan natin na walang exposure sa mga positive cases o kaya walang travel history,” Ho said during a televised briefing.

The DOH in early March confirmed there was a presence of local transmission of the virus and became the basis for raising the alert level in the country.

Ho also reminded the public to continue observing physical distancing measures and health protocols, and maintain good hygiene to beat COVID-19.

As of May 21, the Philippines has recorded 13,434 confirmed coronavirus infections, with 846 fatalities and 3,000 recoveries. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

Boston Marathon cancelled for first time in its history

UNTV News   •   May 29, 2020

The Boston Marathon, originally scheduled to be held in April and then postponed until September because of the COVID-19 pandemic, has now been cancelled for the first time in its history, organisers said on Thursday (May 28).

The race, held annually since 1897, is the world’s most prestigious marathon and generally draws over 30,000 runners from all over the world.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced that the race, whose field attracts decorated professionals and Olympians to amateur runners, was not feasible this year due to the pandemic.

“While our goal and our hope is to make progress in containing the virus and recovering our economy, this kind of event would not be responsible or realistic on September 14 or any time this year,” Walsh said at a live news conference in Boston.

The 26.2-mile race (42km), which extends from the suburb of Hopkinton to downtown Boston, is the first of the six World Marathon Majors to be cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak, which brought live sports to a standstill in mid-March.

The Tokyo Marathon went ahead on March 1 with elite runners only, London was postponed to Oct. 4 from April 26 and Berlin organisers said the race will not got ahead in September but did not specify if it would be postponed or cancelled altogether.

The Chicago Marathon and New York City Marathon have not announced any changes to hold their events in October and November, respectively.

The 2021 Boston Marathon is scheduled for April 19. (Reuters)

(Production: David Grip)

DOH looking for 95,000 allied medical professionals to join contact tracing efforts

Marje Pelayo   •   May 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) needs to hit a benchmark of 126,000 Covid trackers to comply with the standards of the World Health Organization (WHO) of one tracker per 800 Filipinos.

So far, the DOH has 38,000 contact tracers across the country and is now calling for the cooperation of local government units in hiring more for their respective localities.

“Ito pong 95,000 na sinasabi, kagaya ng sabi ninyo, amin pong hihingin ang tulong ng ating mga local government units para makahanap po tayo nitong ating mga contact tracers na ito (We will ask the help of local government units to scout for the additional 95,000 contact tracers),” said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

Contact tracers will receive salary and compensation set by the Civil Service Commission (CSC).

Vergeire said the DOH has already submitted a proposal to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) with regard to the applicant requirements and qualifications.

Specifically, applicants must be allied medical professionals or graduates and undergraduates of allied medical courses. 

“Competencies include data gathering, being able to interview cases and close contacts to gather data on travel history and conduct health assessment, and advocating public health because they need to provide health education messages as well,” Vergeire said of the job description. 

The DOH is also eyeing augmentation from barangay health workers and social workers to help in the government’s response against coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The WHO pointed out earlier the need to fast track contact tracing efforts in the Philippines to be able to immediately isolate those with direct contact to confirmed COVID-19 cases to curb the spread of the virus. MNP (with details from Aiko Miguel)

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Duque: Pagbubukas ng klase sa Agosto, ligtas basta’t matitiyak ang minimum health standards

Robie de Guzman   •   May 26, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Naniniwala si Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III na ligtas ang pagbubukas ng klase sa Agosto 24 basta’t maipatutupad ang kinakailangang minimum health standards sa mga paaralan.

Inihayag ni Duque ang kanyang opinyon nang hingan siya ng pahayag ni Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go sa isinagawang virtual hearing ng Senate Committee on Health and Demography ngayong Martes.

“Pag-aralan po namin maigi ito pero sa tingin po namin, ligtas naman po kung bubuksan natin ang klase by August 24. Ang kinakailangan po rito, siguraduhin lamang na ang lahat ng ating minimum standards for health ay nakatalaga,” ani Duque.

Kabilang aniya sa minimum health standards na kailangang masunod ay ang pagkakaroon ng physical distancing, palagiang paghuhugas at pagdi-disinfect ng mga kamay at pagkakaroon ng thermal scanner upang ma-check kung mataas ang temperatura ng katawan ng isang tao.

“Tingin ko magiging ligtas naman po ang pagbubukas ng ating pong mga paaralan at meron din po tayong evidence-based na atin pong titingnan gaya ng ginagawa po ng IATF,” ani Duque.

“We will continue to evaluate yung mga bilang ng mga kaso down to the barangay levels,” dagdag pa niya.

Una nang sinabi ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte sa kanyang public address noong Lunes ng gabi na hindi siya papayag na muling magbalik-eskwela ang mga mag-aaral hangga’t walang natutuklasang bakuna kontra novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Sa paglilinaw naman ng Malakanyang ngayong Martes, ang pagkakaroon ng face-to-face o physical classes in classroom ang tinutulan ng Pangulo at tuloy pa rin naman ang pagbubukas ng academic schoolyear 2020-2021 sa Agosto.

Kung mananatili pa rin ang banta ng COVID-19 bandang Agosto, ipatutupad naman ng pamahalaan ang flexible blended learning sa lahat ng antas.

Kabilang sa paraang ito ang paggamit ng telebisyon at radyo upang maipagpatuloy ang edukasyon ng mga mag-aaral, lalo na sa mga nasa liblib na lugar at hindi maaabot ng internet.

“Kung hindi po talaga dumating ang new normal, at hindi mai-lift ang community quarantines, di po ibig sabihin na di na mag-aaral ang ating mga kabataan. Mayroon po tayong tinatawag na blended learning sangayon kay Sec. Briones ng DepEd, gagamitin po natin ang telebisyon, ang radio at ang internet para ipagpatuloy po ang edukasyon ng ating mga kabataan,” ani Roque.

Suportado naman ni Duque ang mga plano ng Department of Education (DepEd) upang maseguro ang kaligtasan at kalusugan ng mga mag-aaral.

Una nang sinabi ng DepEd na bukod sa pagsasagawa ng online classes, pinag-aaralan na rin nila sa ngayon ang iba’t ibang learning tools, work arrangement para sa mga guro at maging ang sistema ng assessment sa mga mag-aaral. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

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