Duterte warns of return to strict quarantine restrictions if COVID-19 crisis worsens

Marje Pelayo   •   May 20, 2020   •   836

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte reminds the public to heed government protocols for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis even after community quarantine has been relaxed. 

On May 16, Metro Manila shifted to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from enhanced community quarantine to help revive the Philippines’ crippled economy. 

But President Duterte stressed that such relaxation in restrictions doesn’t mean the country is free of COVID-19 and warned that the government might again tighten restrictions if situations get worse. 

“Remember this, the loosening of the restrictions does not mean [we’re COVID-free],” he said. 

“If the contamination will be as fast as before, and it will continue to infect yung nakalabas na (people who are allowed to go out), then we’ll have to just go back to original program,” he added. 

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque denied allegations that the government is not ready or has no policy for the conduct of COVID-19 mass testing. 

Roque stressed that the government in fact is now preparing to hit the target of 30,000 a day testing capacity by the end of May. 

“From the very beginning, we have had a systematic targeted testing at sa tingin po natin ang sinusunod natin ay benchmark recognized internationally specifically by the WHO,” the Palace Spokesperson said in defense against against critics who are questioning the government’s advice of letting private companies shoulder COVID-19 testing for their respective workers who are returning to work. 

Roque added that the government is targeting to test around 1.5% to 2% of the more than 100 million Filipinos for COVID-19 infection and clarified on what is referred to as ‘mass testing.’

“Ang tawag po dapat ay expanded targeted testing,” he said. 

READ: Phl conducting ‘expanded’ targeted testing, not mass testing vs COVID-19 – DOH

“Wala pong bansa sa buong mundo na ang lahat ng mga mamamayan nito (ay tine-test) kaya nga po mali ang terminong mass testing,” he concluded. MNP (with details 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 from 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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