Duterte assures stronger gov’t response to COVID-19 crisis with new special powers

Marje Pelayo   •   March 25, 2020   •   735

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte expressed gratitude to Congress for granting the Executive branch special powers to strengthen the national government’s response to the current crisis on coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

On Wednesday (March 23), President Duterte signed into law the “Bayanihan to Heal as One” Act which will grant him authority to reallocate government savings to programs related to combating COVID-19.

“To the members of both houses of Congress who sponsored and voted for this measure, I express my sincerest gratitude to all of you for granting our most urgent requests,” the President said.

“Finally, the Executive Department can move, decide and act freely for the best interest of the Filipino people during this health crisis,” he added.

Under the new measure, the national government will allocate emergency monthly subsidy for the 18 million informal sector families in the country on the duration of the crisis.

Likewise, there will be ‘COVID-19 special risk allowance’ for all public health workers on top of their hazard duty pay, compensation for public and private health workers who contacted the disease while on duty, and for the relatives of health workers who died of COVID-19.

“Supplies of food, water and other essentials will be provided to you throughout this ordeal,” the Chief Executive stressed.

“Financial assistance will also be extended especially to those in the margins and the vulnerable groups,” he added.

Meanwhile, concerned agencies like the Health, National Defense, the Interior and Local Government and the Social Welfare and Development Departments are directed to collaborate for the implementation of the government’s national action plan against COVID-19.

Thus, the Chief Executive called for cooperation from all government employees on the matter.

“To my fellow public servants, let us set aside our differences and work in solidarity to overcome this pandemic. We only have one common enemy and that is COVID-19,” the President appealed.

“Our transparency, integrity, accountability and responsiveness are needed and I expect all of you to exercise all these in safeguarding our fellow Filipinos,” he concluded. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

23 out of 163 potential COVID-19 vaccines under clinical trial—FDA

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 16, 2020

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said 23 out of 163 potential vaccines for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are currently under clinical testing stage.

According to FDA Director General Eric Domingo, two potential COVID-19 vaccines will be given to a larger group of people to see if it is effective and to further evaluate its safety.

The said vaccines are Astrazeneca, currently being developed in London, and Sinovac that is being developed in China.

Department of Health (DOH) Spokesperson Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire said that the anti-flu drug Favipiravir or Avigan, from Japan is also nearing clinical trials.

“We are fortunate that the Japanese have reached out to us to help increase the sample size of their Avigan drug trial, a potential treatment to prevent people dying from COVID-19,” she said.

Meanwhile, the FDA has confirmed that another potential vaccine is being developed in Russia. Domingo said it is currently in the advanced phase.

“Ginagamit na rin siya sa clinical trial ng ibang bansa mayroon din sa Japan, China, United States, Italy at Russia, (It is currently under clinical trial in other countries like Japan, China, United States, and Russia),” he said.

The medicine for Ebola Virus, Remdesivir, is currently under solidarity trial. Remdesivir is being used in other countries to treat severe COVID-19 patients. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Davao City eyes new protocols for returning residents, Davao-bound travelers

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 16, 2020

The Davao City Government will be enforcing new protocols for returning residents, including Davao-bound passengers to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the city.

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte said they have begun implementing the COVID-19 ‘Test and Wait’ mechanism for returning Davao City residents, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), and the locally stranded individuals (LSIs).

“It means that we test them and let them wait in a holding area. When the results come out, they can go home for home quarantine,” she said.

Meanwhile, Duterte has requested the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to require all Davao City-bound passengers to submit a negative RT-PCR test taken within 48 hours of the departure date.

The Davao International Airport (DIA) resumed operations last June 8 and has been receiving OFWs, LSIs, and commercial flight passengers since it reopened.

The Davao mayor already raised concerns over the increasing cases of COVID-19. Based on reports, many of the cases are returning individuals from Manila. AAC

Duque clarifies: PH ‘bent’ COVID-19 curve, not ‘flattened’

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 16, 2020

After announcing that the government has successfully flattened the curve of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in April, Department of Health (DOH) Secretary clarified that the COVID-19 cases in April has been ‘bent’.

Duque received backlash after his statement on Wednesday (July 16). He later clarified his statement on his Twitter account.

“This means we bent the curve in April after the March Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ),” he said.

The DOH official, meanwhile, admitted there is an increase in COVID-19 cases in the country because of community transmission prompted by the easing of community quarantine restrictions. The government also has expanded its testing capacity which added to the increased number of cases.

He also said it is important to maintain the number of cases at a manageable level to avoid overwhelming health workers. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

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