FDA clarifies: Chinese medicine Lian Hua Qin Weng not registered as COVID-19 drug in PH

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 13, 2020   •   323

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has clarified that the traditional Chinese medicine, Lian Hua Qin Weng, is not registered in the Philippines as a product for coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Although Lian Hua Qin Weng is used as a COVID-19 treatment in China and other countries, it is not registered for the same purpose in the Philippines, according to FDA Director General Eric Domingo.

“Dito sa Pilipinas approved natin siya as traditional-use herbal product (Here in the Philippines, it is approved as traditional-use herbal product) that helps remove toxins, invasion of the lungs including symptoms such as fever, cold, muscle soreness, stuffy and runny nose. Kasi iyong mga traditional medicines ang tini-treat niyan symptoms, alleviate symptoms. Hindi talaga siya directed to one particular illness, (Because these traditional medicines treat or alleviate symptoms. It is not really directed to one particular illness),” he said.

On Wednesday (August 12), the Chinese Embassy released a statement describing Lian Hua Qin Weng as a treatment for moderate and mild cases of COVID-19 in China.

However, in the Philippines, Domingo said the medicine still needs to undergo clinical trials and cannot be labeled as a treatment for COVID-19.

Dito sa atin ang traditional medicine hindi natin siya ina-approve for particular illnesses […] hindi siya pwedeng i-label sa atin as treatment for COVID-19. Hindi siya pwedeng ibenta as that dito sa Pilipinas, (Here, traditional medicine is not approved for particular illnesses […] we cannot label it as treatment for COVID-19. It cannot be sold here in the Philippines as such),” he added.

The FDA official also explained that the medicine is a prescription drug and will not be sold over-the-counter. The FDA also warned the public not to buy Lian Hua Qin Weng online.

“Kailangan magpatingin sa doctor. Mag-reseta at pwede lang siyang ibenta sa mga licensed pharmacies or licensed retail outlets, (One needs to consult a doctor. A prescription is needed and the medicine can only be sold at licensed pharmacies or licensed retail outlets)” Domingo said. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

From danger zone to moderate, DOH sees downward trend of COVID-19 cases

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 28, 2020

The number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases in the country is now at a downward trend, according to the Department of Health (DOH).

DOH Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said that, for the past six days, the number of new COVID-19 cases that they have been recording has been under 3,000.

We look at the trends noong ating mga averages per week. Makikita natin bumababa, nakikita natin bumababa tayo ng around 1,000 to 1,200 cases na comparing to the previous (We look at the trends in our average record per week. We see a decline in number around 1,000 to 1,200 cases compared to the previous records), she said.

This is also an indication that COVID-19 transmission in the country, especially in the National Capital Region (NCR), has dropped from the danger zone to moderate. From the 81% Critical Care Utilization Rate in the NCR last August, it went down to 60%.

The Critical Care Utilization Rate refers to the availability of ICU beds in COVID-19 wards, ventilator facilities, and other hospital needs for COVID-19 patients.

Health Undersecretary and Treatment Czar Dr. Leopoldo Vega said the decrease in the number of cases can help in recalibrating the strategies and responses of local government units in addressing the pandemic. This includes a boost in contract tracing and isolation of COVID-19 patients.

Ang malaking bahagi talaga sa pagsugpo ng COVID-19 ay iyong public health measure. At nakikita mo naman lalo na sa Metro Manila na kapag ang LGU ay aggressive sa testing, isolation at tracing ng mga positive sa COVID-19 ay malaki ng pagbabago (The huge part in fighting COVID-19 is public health measure. As you can see, especially in Metro Manila, if an LGU is aggressive in testing, isolation and tracing of COVID-19 positive it makes a huge difference),he said.

However, the DOH official said there are still areas where COVID-19 cases remain high and that the public should stay vigilant in abiding by the health and safety protocols.

Vergeire also said that despite the decline, the department still does not recommend to ease the quarantine restrictions in the country.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases should also consider other indicators such as the attack and growth curve before submitting their recommendation. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

DILG tells LGUs: Endorse mild, asymptomatic COVID-19 patients to Oplan Kalinga facilities

Robie de Guzman   •   September 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Monday urged local government units (LGU) in Metro Manila to endorse to Oplan Kalinga quarantine facilities mild and asymptomatic novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients that could no longer be accommodated in local isolation centers.

In a statement, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said there now 4,000 beds available in Oplan Kalinga facilities due to the increase in discharges or recoveries in the previous weeks.

“We urge all Metro Manila LGUs to endorse patients which they can no longer accommodate in their local isolation facilities to endorse them to the Mega TTMFs and Oplan Kalinga Hotels which now has some 4,000 beds available because many have already been discharged,” he said.

Año said this is in compliance with Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Resolution No. 74 which states that all confirmed mild and asymptomatic COVID-19 patients are required to isolate in government-approved facilities, except those who are vulnerable or have comorbidities as certified by a local health officer.

Also exempted in this rule are confirmed mild and asymptomatic COVID-19 patients in areas where the government-recognized isolation centers are in full capacity.

“Meron tayong mga Mega Quarantine Facilities and 31 COVID hotels na kung saan puwede sila mag-isolate. Importante kasi talaga na mailabas sila sa bahay kasi nakahahawa sa pamilya,” the DILG chief said.

According to DILG spokesperson, Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, LGUs can coordinate directly with the One Hospital Command Center (OHCC) located at the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) which was created to facilitate a comprehensive and coordinated response to the pandemic by ensuring an efficient health facility referral in Metro Manila.

Malaya said that with the establishment of the OHCC, LGUs and individuals can now easily locate hospitals or isolation facilities near them.

The DILG said the command center is open 24/7 and individuals needing treatment may call the OHCC hotlines at 0927-728-0750, 0927-728-0753, 0927-728-0755, and 0927-728-0798.

Individuals needing assistance from the OHCC may also download the PureForce Citizens App via Google Play Store or App Store, it added.

Facility-based isolation for asymptomatic, mild COVID-19 cases now mandatory

Marje Pelayo   •   September 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) is now requiring facility-based isolation for confirmed asymptomatic and mild coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases through IATF Resolution 74.

The new policy however, exempts patients who are considered vulnerable or having comorbidities and their home meets the conditions specified in the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Joint Administrative Order 2020-0001. 

Likewise, another exception is when the Ligtas COVID-19 Centers within the region are fully occupied and the local government unit does not have sufficient isolation facilities.

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