GCQ extended in Metro Manila until end of November

Maris Federez   •   October 27, 2020   •   755

MANILA, Philippines — Metro Manila will remain under general community quarantine (GCQ) until November 30.

President Rodrigo Duterte made the announcement in a taped address to the nation aired on Tuesday (Oct. 27), after meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

The President has also decided to keep Batangas, Iloilo City, Bacolod City, Tacloban City, Iligan City and Lanao del Sur under GCQ until the end of November.

Nevertheless, local government units still have until October 28 to appeal to the IATF on the quarantine classification of their respective areas for the next month.

Metro Manila mayors have earlier stated that they want to keep the GCQ status for the NCR until the end of the year. They, however, applied eased restrictions on movement, travel, and business.

Except for Navotas City, the whole of NCR is implementing lesser curfew hours to allow more businesses to recover.

The Philippines had been under community quarantine classification since March due to the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. —(with details from Rosalie Coz) /mbmf

IATF OKs use of Sinovac COVID-19 vax for healthcare workers

Robie de Guzman   •   February 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has agreed with the recommendation of the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) to use Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine for healthcare workers, the Department of Health (DOH) said Friday.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said NITAG experts have concluded that the vaccine will be beneficial and is sufficient to be used for healthcare workers despite its lower efficacy rate of 50.4% for those frequently exposed to COVID-19 patients.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), on Monday, issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) to Sinovac but did not recommend its use for health workers caring for COVID-19 patients due to its lower efficacy rate based on clinical trials conducted in Brazil.

Vergeire stressed that the FDA’s recommendation on Sinovac was not a contraindication and that this does not prohibit healthcare workers from getting the Sinovac jab.

“Ultimately, the EUA of FDA establishes the safety and efficacy of Sinovac and our experts have ruled that SINOVAC’s 100% efficacy rate in preventing moderate and severe cases is indeed sufficient to meet the goal of reducing deaths — protections which we want to afford first and foremost to our healthcare workers,” she said.

Experts from NITAG also emphasized that the vaccine is safe and that they themselves are prepared to receive a shot.

“In our deliberations what we looked at it is safety to ensure the vaccine is safe that has been borne out by the review of the trials,” Dr. Marissa Alejandira, DOH-TAG member, said.

“As for myself, as a healthcare worker who sees COVID-19 patients, I am willing to take this vaccine,” Dr. Edsel Salvana, also a DOH TAG member, said.

They, however, stressed that medical frontliners will not be forced to take the shot and that they will not lose their priority status if they chose to decline the Sinovac vaccine shot.

The DOH said it is now finalizing details on how to allocate the 600,000 Sinovac vaccine doses expected to arrive on Sunday, February 28. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

IATF wants alternative modes of validation for elderly pension access

Robie de Guzman   •   February 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The government’s task force for COVID-19 response has ordered pension-issuing agencies and their servicing banks and other financial institutions to adopt alternative modes of verifying claims of senior citizens so they will no longer have to appear in-person to access their pensions, Malacañang announced Friday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) considered the health and safety of the elderly pensioners amid the pandemic in issuing the policy.

At present, senior citizens make personal appearances or submit documents that require personal appearances before a notary public in order to have continuous access to their pensions.

Roque said relevant government agencies have been mandated to issue corresponding memorandum circulars for its implementation by March 1.

This directive is contained in the IATF Resolution No. 100 approved on Thursday, February 18.

NEDA recommends placing entire Philippines under MGCQ starting March 1

Marje Pelayo   •   February 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) has recommended placing the entire country under the most relaxed community quarantine restriction starting March 1.

Acting NEDA director general Karl Chua presented the proposal during President Rodrigo Duterte’s weekly televised briefing Monday night.

The recommendation, which Chua had also previously presented to the Inter-Agency Task Force against COVID-19, aims at easing the impact of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic on the country’s economy

“Kailangan po natin na mag-shift sana sa lalong madaling panahon to MGCQ for the entire Philippines, sana starting March 1, 2021, para i-address po iyong hunger or iyong mataas na antas ng mga Pilipino po na nagugutom ,” Chua said 

The official noted that the country already lost P1.04 trillion in income due to the implementation of community quarantine that started in March 2020.

This is equivalent to an average of P2.8 million income loss per day.

Chua stressed, however, that health and safety protocols should not be compromised in relaxing the quarantine restrictions.

“Ang recommendation po namin, dapat ibalanse natin. Hindi naman po natin sinasabi na ibukas lang po natin ang ekonomiya at huwag na nating pakielaman ang COVID-19 cases,” Chua said.

“Kailangan po natin both at nakita po natin, nagbukas po tayo last October at dumaan po ang Christmas vacation, hindi naman po umakyat ang COVID cases,” he added.

At present, only several areas in the country are still under general community quarantine until February 28 which include Metro Manila, Batangas Province, Tacloban City, Davao City, Davao Del Norte, Lanao Del Sur, Iligan City, and the Cordillera Administrative Region.

Aside from further relaxing the quarantine measures, the IATF also recommended the implementation of localized lockdowns in the barangay and municipal levels to deal with the COVID-19 situation.

The IATF also recommends increasing public transport capacity from 50% to 70% ; encouraging the use of active transport like bicycles; increasing provincial bus operations; gradually expanding age groups allowed outdoors; and the resuming pilot testing of face-to-face classes in low risk areas.

The IATF maintained that these recommendations are accompanied by strict safety measures to curb COVID-19 transmission. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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