HK closely monitors COVID situation in PH; to accept vax records starting Sept. 1

Marje Pelayo   •   August 31, 2021   •   364

The government of Hong Kong announced on Monday that it will accept vaccination records of inbound travelers coming from the Philippines effective September 1.

In a press release, the Hong Kong government said it has updated its list of places with recognized vaccination records adding the Philippines and Indonesia.

“Hong Kong residents who hold vaccination records affirmed by the relevant authorities of these two countries can board a flight for Hong Kong from Group A specified places,” it said.

As for foreign domestic helpers (FDHs), they need to go through standard health procedures upon arrival.

“Foreign domestic helpers holding vaccination records that have been affirmed by the relevant authorities of Indonesia or the Philippines must follow the quarantine arrangements as announced by the Government on August 26, including undergoing 21-day compulsory quarantine in a designated quarantine facility. As for other Hong Kong residents, they can undergo compulsory quarantine in regular designated quarantine hotels,” said Hong Kong’s Secretary of Labor and Welfare Dr Law Chi-kwong.

The updated policy applies to countries considered as ‘Group A’ places in Hong Kong’s travel list.

Hong Kong labels countries/territories with ‘high risks’ of COVID-19 infection as Group A places.

These are Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, France, Greece, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Malaysia, Nepal, the Netherlands, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

Dr Law Chi-kwong added that while the Hong Kong government recognizes the high demand for foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) in the country, they have to impose strict measures because of the COVID-19 variants, particularly the Delta that has been spreading very rapidly.

“We have to ensure that we will not be allowing the virus to infiltrate into our community. Thus, we on one hand have to strike the balance between the demand of the families needing to employ FDHs and, on the other hand, we have to reduce the risk of having the virus coming into our community. Thus, we have to do it steadily and step by step,” he said.

Nevertheless, he said, in case the number of COVID positive cases spikes, they have existing mechanism to stop flights coming to Hong Kong.

Hong Kong has recently issued a two-week temporary ban on flights from Philippine Airlines after three of its passengers tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival at the airport.

“We have to monitor it closely,” Dr Law added.

“It depends on the progress, the risk we are facing and the whole situation at these places of origin for FDHs. You would probably be aware that in the Philippines, the number of cases has been increasing very rapidly recently. So, we have to basically monitor the situation day after day,” he said.

Quezon City gov’t looking into possible causes of COVID-19 spread in 2 convents

Robie de Guzman   •   September 16, 2021

The Quezon City Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Unit (CESU) is currently looking into the possible causes of COVID-19 outbreak in two convents in the city, the local government said Thursday.

In a statement, the city government said massive contact tracing efforts are underway to contain the further transmission of the virus.

A total of 114 individuals, including 64 nuns and 50 staff members, tested positive for COVID-19 at the Religious of the Virgin Mary (RVM) in Cubao.

At the Convent of the Holy Spirit, 22 individuals were confirmed to have caught the virus, including 13 nuns and 9 staff members.

The city government said both facilities have been placed under lockdown.

CESU chief Dr. Rolando Cruz said they became aware of the situation after the cases were recorded in the surveillance data reported by a testing laboratory.

“Hindi po tayo ang nag-swab sa kanila. Nagpa-test po sila sa iba at nang lumabas na ang resulta sa laboratory, na-record ito sa surveillance data,” he said in the same statement.

“Now, our team is conducting an investigation and intensive contact tracing to get more details about the matter,” he added.

Cruz said part of the ongoing investigation is to determine if any of the positive individuals had any close contact with anyone outside of their facility.

Initial investigation revealed that a nun at the Convent of Holy Spirit passed away due to COVID-19 in early September. A physical therapist in the facility was reportedly exposed to the patient.

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte earlier ordered the CESU to conduct active surveillance of closed settings in the city such as nursing homes and convents after 122 people, including 99 children, in an orphanage tested positive for COVID-19.

COVID-19 reproduction rate in NCR slows down to 1.28 – OCTA

Robie de Guzman   •   September 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The reproduction number of coronavirus disease in the National Capital Region (NCR) has improved in the past few days, the OCTA Research Group said Thursday.

In a report posted on Twitter, OCTA fellow Dr. Guido David noted that NCR’s reproduction number, which refers to the average number of secondary infections by each positive case, eased to 1.28 from Sept. 9 to 15.

This rate is lower than the 1.39 reported during the period covering Sept. 2 to 8.

David also noted that the one-week growth rate of NCR dipped to 9 percent from Sept. 8 to 15, compared to the 14 percent recorded from Sept. 2 to 8.

“Kapag bumaba iyong reproduction number kumakaunti ang hawaan, bumabagal ang hawaan. The growth rate will also decrease like ngayon sa NCR, 1.28 reproduction number growth rate is 9% kapag bumaba ang reproduction number to 1 iyong growth rate naman pababa to 0% then magiging negative,” David said in an interview.

“Kapag negative na ang growth rate ibig sabihin kumakaunti na ang cases natin… In fact, nationally 6% na lang ang nadagdag,” he added.

David also said that the capital region recorded an average of 5,819 cases per day over the past week, while the daily attack rate per 100,000 population climbed to 41.66 from the previous 38.24. It also registered a positivity rate of 25 percent.

He noted that the NCR has not yet peaked but there is hope that it may happen in one or two weeks.

“We might be getting close to the peak nationally… That’s why we have renewed again hope that we might not hit 30,000,” he said.

“Most likely today we’ll see 20,000+ cases […] even up to 21,000 to 22,000 but we hope na it will be controlled in the sense it will not exceed the previous high 25,000-26,000. Maybe the trend will start to decrease,” he added.

David also expressed hope that the country’s health system will be able to take a breather by next month if the downward trend continues.

“Based on the trends that we are seeing, by October I am predicting —hindi ito projection, may kasamang hope and prayer — that by October, downward trend na tayo,” he said.

“Pero iyong hospitalization will still remain high for foreseeable future up to the next few weeks,” he added.

He, however, called on the public to continue adhering to the minimum public health and quarantine protocols to help curb COVID-19 infections.

PH lists 21,261 new COVID-19 cases; death toll breaches 36K

Robie de Guzman   •   September 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines on Thursday recorded 21,261 new COVID-19 infections, pushing the tally of cases to 2,304,192 since the pandemic began in 2020.

The Department of Health (DOH) said the additional cases pushed the country’s active tally to 177,946.

Of the active cases, 86.1 percent are mild, 9.2 percent are asymptomatic, 2.65 percent are moderate, 1.4 percent are severe, and 0.6 percent are in critical condition.

Meanwhile, total recoveries rose to 2,090,228 with 13,644 new recovered patients.

Fatalities climbed to 36,018 after 277 more patients succumbed to the viral disease.

Two laboratories failed to submit data on time, the DOH noted in its report.

Out of the 74,149 tests reported on Sept. 14, around 27 percent have been found positive for COVID-19.

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