Duque takes responsibility over compensation mess

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 5, 2020   •   491

Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III said he is taking the responsibility for the delayed compensation for health workers hit by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a tweet, the Duque said it is still his responsibility as the secretary of health to make sure compensations are properly distributed.

The Health Secretary initially put the blame of delayed compensation for the COVID-19 hit health workers on his subordinates, during his talk with President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday morning (June 5).

“Nakakahiya talaga sir, namatayan na nga, nagpawardi-wardi iyong mga tao ko na parang walang sense of urgency. Ang sama-sama po ng loob ko Mr. President (It is a shame, sir, that people are dying and yet my subordinates were dilly-dallying as if they have no sense of urgency. I am really disappointed, Mr. President),” he said.

The DOH already released a joint administrative order to implement the provision of the Bayanihan Law to provide P100,000 benefits to health workers who were badly hit by COVID-19, while P1 million will be given to the families of health workers who already passed away due to the virus.

Duterte has given the DOH until June 9 to provide the financial assistance to the health workers hit with COVID-19. AAC (with report from Aiko Miguel)

DOH, FDA to probe Mon Tulfo’s alleged use of unauthorized COVID-19 vaccine

Robie de Guzman   •   February 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday said they would investigate reports on the use of smuggled vaccines against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The DOH issued the statement following the admission of Special Envoy to China Ramon Tulfo that he received coronavirus jabs from China’s Sinopharm, which has not yet been authorized for use in the country.

Tulfo on Tuesday said he got inoculated with illegally procured vaccine last year with some Cabinet officials, a lawmaker and some of President Rodrigo Duterte’s security team.

The DOH warned the public that the use and distribution of smuggled vaccine is illegal.

“Ito po ay makakasama sa imbestigasyon and all of these things kapag nakita natin na hindi naayon sa mga batas na meron tayo dito sa ating bansa will be considered illegal,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a virtual briefing.

“Kung sinoman po yung mga kababayan natin, distributors or suppliers na nagbibigay ng mga bakuna na wala pang emergency use authority ay magkakaroon ng appropriate investigation and if there would be violations, magkaka-sanctions po,” she added.

Vergeire also stressed that vaccines need to undergo regulation and secure emergency use authorization (EUA) to ensure its safety and efficacy.

FDA Director General Eric Domingo said Sinopharm has yet to file an application for an EUA.

“As of now, wala pa pong nag-a-apply sa amin. ‘Yung Chinese Government, sumulat po sila kay Secretary (Carlito) Galvez informing him na wala silang local na distributor dito at hindi ko alam kung ano ang kanilang magiging applications po and strategy,” Domingo said.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, meanwhile, said that Malacañang will leave the investigation on the issue to the FDA.

He, however, stressed that taking illegally procured COVID-19 vaccines is not a policy of the Duterte administration.

“Wala pong ganiyang polisiya dahil kung may ganiyan pong polisiya, siguro commercial quantity na ang kumalat noong mga bakuna na hindi naaprubahan. Pero inaantay po talaga natin ang aksiyon ng FDA sa mga bagay-bagay na ito,” Roque said.

To recall, some members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) were revealed to have taken unauthorized coronavirus vaccine shots in December.

The FDA and the National Bureau of Investigation are undertaking separate investigations into the matter.

Domingo said the PSG has yet to respond to FDA’s inquiry into their illegal inoculation. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Health experts detect 19 more B.1.1.7 cases in Phl

Maris Federez   •   February 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH), the University of the Philippines-Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC), and the UP-National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) have announced the detection of nineteen more COVID-19 cases in the country that turned out positive for the B.1.1.7 variant (UK variant), bringing its total number to 44.

In a statement released on Friday night, the DOH, UP-PGC, and UP-NIH further report that no other variant of concern was detected, and 60 samples from Region 7 fitting sequencing criteria were negative for the B.1.1.7 variant.

“The 19 additional cases were part of the sixth batch of 718 samples sequenced by the UP-PGC on February 8, 2021. The sixth batch of samples was sourced from all regions, except BARMM, and was selected to ensure representation of each region as well as areas where spikes in cases have been reported,” the statement said.

Three (3) of the 19 cases have indicated current addresses in Region XI, and two are from CALABARZON. Eight, on the other hand, are returning overseas Filipinos (ROF), while the rest are still yet to be verified whether they are local cases or ROFs.

The three cases from Region XI are composed of two males, aged 10 and 33; and one female aged 54, who do not have any known link to each other. The three cases are currently active with mild symptoms.

The two (2) cases from CALABARZON are both female. One is a recovered 20-year-old who was swabbed last December 22, 2020 and has unknown exposure, while the other is 76-year-old, with exposure to a positive case last January 21, and is currently experiencing mild symptoms.

Meanwhile, the eight returning overseas Filipinos tested at different ROF catchment laboratories comprised of four are males and four females, aged between 28 and 53 years old. Six of them are currently being managed in ROF isolation facilities, while the two cases have been tagged as recovered.

The last six cases are currently undergoing verification on whether they are local cases or Returning Overseas Filipinos.

The DOH added that case investigation and contact tracing have been initiated to verify reported information and trace possible sources of infection.

The health department said it shall release additional information once available.

“Case investigation and contact tracing shall also immediately be initiated by the DOH through the Centers for Health Development and regional epidemiology and surveillance units (RESU), in close coordination with concerned LGU local health offices, local epidemiology and surveillance units, and law enforcement,” the DOH further said.

The DOH also gave acknowledgment to the UP-PGC, UP-NIH, RESUs, and other laboratories “for their invaluable assistance in the conduct of biosurveillance, and the National Bureau of Investigation for their support in locating reported cases and their contacts,” it concluded. —/mbmf

DOH records 1,734 new cases; warns that surge in cases could lead to virus mutation

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,734 new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases on February 11.

Based on the latest bulletin the total number of cases in the country reached 543,282 with 31,478 active cases. The number of daily recoveries reached 423 with 500,335 total recoveries, and 68 deaths recorded, totaling to 11,469 deaths.

Fifty-two cases that were previously tagged as recovered are now reclassified as deaths after final validation. Twelve duplicates were also removed from the total case count.

Meanwhile, DOH-Epidemiology Bureau Medical Specialist IV Dr. Alethea De Guzman reiterated there is a need to increase the response in areas with surges of COVID-19 cases. This is to prevent possible mutation of the virus.

Kaya iyong mahalagang step natin para mapigilan, para ma- lessen iyong chance natin na magkaroon ng mga mutation at para magkaroon ng mga bagong varant (So the important steps to prevent and lessen chances for a mutation and possible new variant) is to really push our numbers to as low, to as minimum number as possible. To decrease the chance of new variants even a variant coming from the Philippines” she said.

Experts are currently monitoring the rising COVID-19 cases in Cebu City.

The health department reminds the public to follow health and safety protocols especially amid the threat of variants of the COVID-19 virus. -AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)


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