Duterte assures enough gov’t funds to handle COVID-19, other public health emergencies

Robie de Guzman   •   February 12, 2020   •   1091

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers a speech during a meeting with local chief executives at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City on February 10, 2020. ALFRED FRIAS/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has assured the public that the government has enough funds to handle the impact of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and other public health emergencies.

Duterte made the assurance during his meeting with local chief executives in Pasay on Monday to discuss the strengthening of government efforts against various challenges such as the spread of novel coronavirus, African Swine Fever and the communist threat.

“I would like also to take this opportunity to assure all Filipino brothers and sisters that the national government remains to be on top of the threat of the coronavirus. We are prepared to handle all public emergency, in case the worst possible scenario happens,” he said.

He also urged the public to keep their faith in the government as it works to contain the spread of the deadly virus.

“Ang akin lang, sabihin ko sa iyo, maniwala lang kayo sa gobyerno. I mean — we mean, in a crisis of involving deaths and getting people sick, we will do our very best at maniwala lang kayo,” he said.

Duterte likewise called on local officials to take urgent steps in preventing the transmission of the disease in their areas of jurisdiction, and in the immediate care of those who have been afflicted.

He also directed all local government units to be more proactive in the management of cases, contact tracing, efficient prevention and control, and information dissemination regarding the coronavirus.

The president also told local officials to listen and follow the protocols set out by the Department of Health, and to allow people access to equipment and services to help fight the spread of the virus.

“I trust that you will actively engage our schools, hospitals and barangay health workers for more efficient and effective community response to avert possible outbreak that could affect the day-to-day lives of our people,” he told the local executives.

Duterte also gave updates to local officials on the repatriation of Filipinos from the Chinese City of Wuhan – the epicenter of the novel coronavirus update – as well as the quarantine process being implemented at the Athlete’s Village in the New Clark City in Tarlac.

“We will continue to coordinate with the DOH and other concerned agencies so that we can meet the needs, not only of those who were affected by the virus, but also of the welfare of our frontline health workers,” he said.

DOH logs 3,962 new cases in confirmed COVID-19 list

Maris Federez   •   September 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) reports that the total number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases is now at 283,460 as of 4:00 p.m. Saturday, September 19, 2020.

This, after 3,962 newly-confirmed cases were added to the list.

The DOH likewise announced 1,128 recoveries, bringing the total number of recoveries to 209,885.

The health department’s latest bulletin showed that of the 3,962 reported cases today, 3,286 (83%) occurred within the recent 14 days (September 6 – September 19, 2020).

The top regions with cases in the recent two weeks were the NCR with 1,199 (36%), Region 4A with 780 (24%) and Region 3 with 446 (14%).

Of the 100 deaths, 66 occurred in September (66%), 16 in August (16%) 7 in July (7%) 4 in June (4%) and 7 in April (7%).  

Twenty-seven (27) duplicates were removed from the total case count. Of these, 15 were recovered cases, the report added. Another patient who recovered was verified to be a foreign national and was also removed from the total case count.

On the other hand, 17 cases which were previously tagged as recovered were reclassified as deaths after final validation.

The department further reported that 10 laboratories were not able to submit their data to the COVID-19 Data Repository System (CDRS) on September 18, 2020. These laboratories are:

  1. Daniel O. Mercado Medical Center
  2. Dr. Jorge P. Royeca Hospital
  3. Kaiser Medical Center Inc.
  4. Lanao del Norte Covid-19 Testing Laboratory
  5. Las Piñas General Hospital and Satellite Trauma Center (GX)
  6. Las Piñas General Hospital and Satellite Trauma Center (RT-PCR)
  7. Research Institute for Tropical Medicine
  8. Safeguard DNA Diagnostics
  9. Taguig City Molecular Laboratory
  10. Valenzuela Hope Molecular Laboratory

The DOH said the numbers they receive undergo constant cleaning and validation. — /mbmf

CDC reverses earlier COVID-19 guidance that said asymptomatic people may not need testing

Maris Federez   •   September 19, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday (US Eastern Time) reversed its controversial coronavirus testing guidance that said people who were exposed to an infected person but weren’t showing any symptoms “do not necessarily need a test.”

The new guidance says that people who have been in close contact with an infected person and do not have symptoms “need a test.”

“Due to the significance of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, this guidance further reinforces the need to test asymptomatic persons, including close contacts of a person with documented SARS-CoV-2 infection,” the CDC says.

The agency defines “close contact” as being within 6 feet of a person with a confirmed COVID-19 infection for at least 15 minutes.

The CDC guidance reversal followed criticisms from public health specialists on the agency’s change in testing guidance in August that seemed to downplay the significance of testing people who don’t have symptoms but could be spreading the virus.

The new guidance also advised people who are waiting for their test results to “self-quarantine/isolate at home and stay separated from household members to the extent possible and use a separate bedroom and bathroom, if available.”

The CDC also reiterated its recommendations to follow “measures to mitigate the spread of the virus and to protect people at increased risk of severe illness:  social distancing, wearing a mask when social distancing is not possible, avoiding crowds, avoiding indoor crowded spaces, and washing or sanitizing hands frequently.” —/mbmf

One-meter physical distancing will be observed in public transport — Duterte

Maris Federez   •   September 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte has decided that the one-meter distance between passengers in public transport must be observed, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque announced Saturday.

“Mananatili po ang one-meter distancing sa pampublikong transportasyon,” Roque said through state-run PTV4.

He added though that talking inside public transport vehicles is still not allowed and that the minimum health protocol such as wearing of face masks and face shields shall remain.

“Sasamahan din ng pagsuot ng face mask at face shield,” he said.  “Bawal ang magsalita sa mga pampublikong transportasyon.”

The Palace spokesperson said the president made the decision on Friday night amid opposing opinions of medical experts on the matter..

The Department of Transportation has allowed the public transport system in the country to implement a “reduced physical distancing” policy starting Monday, September 14.

From the previous one-meter physical distancing marker between passengers, it was reduced to .75-meter safe distance.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) said it approved the proposal to provide service to the increasing number of passengers brought about by the reopening of more businesses.

The proposal provide for a further reduction of physical distancing to 0.5 meters after two weeks, and to 0.3 meters after another two weeks.

Read: DOTr reduces physical distancing markers in public transport

A panel of doctors has expressed support for the gradual reduction of physical distancing inside public transportation vehicles.

The medical experts, which include former Department of Health Secretaries Manuel Dayrit and Esperanza Cabral, said that while the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends keeping a distance of one meter from other passengers to the extent possible, “it allows for adjustments based on context.”

Read: Group of medical experts back reduced distancing policy in public transport

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año, however, said the DOTr released the operational guidelines on reduced physical distancing in public transport without consulting health experts and the Metro Manila local government units. — /mbmf

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