IATF approves partial lifting of inbound travel restrictions for returning residents of Region VI

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 16, 2020   •   110

Returning residents of Region VI can now return to their hometowns after the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) approved the partial lifting restrictions on inbound travel in the region.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said locally stranded individuals (LSIs) from Region VI can finally come home.

“Mabuting balita po doon sa mga locally stranded na mga indibidwal galing po sa Guimaras, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Antique at Iloilo City, na-lift na po ang moratorium sa pag-uuwi ng mga mamamayan na taga-rito. Puwede na po kayo muling umuwi,” he said.

The IATF issued resolution no. 71 lifting the temporary suspension of inbound travel of returning residents.

This was after local government units requested a moratorium on inbound travel of locally stranded individuals in Region IV, Iligan, and Lanao del Sur from September 7 to 21. AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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.

Group of medical experts back reduced distancing policy in public transport

Robie de Guzman   •   September 15, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – A panel of doctors on Tuesday expressed support for the gradual reduction of physical distancing inside public transportation vehicles.

The medical experts, which include former Department of Health Secretaries Manuel Dayrit and Esperanza Cabral, said that while the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends keeping a distance of one meter from other passengers to the extent possible, “it allows for adjustments based on context.”

“Given our other recommended health interventions, we propose the gradual reduction of the physical distancing norm during transit to 0.5 meters or lower,” the group said in a statement.

“Based on our review of the scientific literature and the policies and experiences of neighboring countries, we believe the evidence shows physical distancing can be maintained below 1 meter, so long as other health measures are also implemented,” they added.

The group also includes NTF against COVID-19 Special Advisor Dr. Teodoro Herbosa, University of the Philippines Manila officials Dr. Vicente Belizario, Jr. and Dr. Michael Hernandez, Philippine College of Surgeons Cancer Commission director Dr. Manuel Roxas, Eye Bank Foundation of the Philippines founder and CEO Dr. Ma. Dominga Padilla, and Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Rontgene Solante.

The group submitted its recommendations to the IATF regarding the reduced physical distancing in public transport.

Aside from the gradual reduction of physical distancing, they also urged the government to increase public transportation supply including trains, bus, jeepneys, motorcycle taxis, and Transport Network Vehicle Services (TNVS), and the use of other options such as cycling, walking, and private shuttles.

“We also recommend the full institutionalization of private sector expert consultation to further improve our overall management of the economy and public health,” the group said.

They stressed that while the efforts of the task force, Department of Health and the One Hospital Command to address the pandemic have “successfully increased and improved the current hospital capacity,” there is still an urgent need to revitalize the country.

They also emphasized that the economy cannot bounce back without increasing public transport capacity, which has been operating at only 20-30% of pre-pandemic levels due to fears of COVID-19 transmission.

They also pushed for the strict implementation of what they call as the “seven commandments” for all public transportation:

  • Wearing of proper face masks
  • Wearing of face shields
  • No talking and no eating
  • Adequate ventilation
  • Frequent and proper disinfection
  • No symptomatic passengers
  • Appropriate physical distancing

“By imposing these strict measures, we believe we can gradually relax social distancing rules, in order to double or even triple our current public transport capacity, without compromising public health,” the group said.

They cited as evidence several studies that support the reduction of physical distancing in public utility vehicles.

“A recent study from Duke University, for example, shows that surgical masks reduce droplet transmission by up to 99%, and that the simple act of not talking can reduce droplet counts by up to 4x,” the group said.

“A meta-analysis published on June 22, 2020 in The Lancet, a leading international medical journal, shows that face masks and face shields can independently reduce the chance of viral transmission by up to 5-fold and 3-fold, respectively,” they added.

The panel of experts also said that in China, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam, and other countries, passengers wear face masks while sitting side-by-side in trains, while COVID cases remain “manageable.”

“We believe that there is a way forward that carefully balances a careful reopening of public transport capacity, with public health, while allowing purposeful flexibility to re-adjust measures based on actual and evolving data from the ground,” the group said.

They, however, clarified that their proposal has many more layers and that they are still reviewing some studies.

They also underscored the need for more dialogue with other experts and stakeholders about their recommendations.

“Public policy has no quick-and-easy solutions, and addressing the transport crisis in this pandemic is no exception… We also encourage a discussion of other groups’ thoughts on health and other matters, including the overall increase of the supply of safe public transportation,” they said.

The IATF earlier approved a proposal to gradually reduced physical distancing in public transport. The adjustment took effect on Monday, Sept. 14.

Due to differences in views and growing concerns over the policy, Malacañang vowed to look into the issue. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Joan Nano)

Pagsasara ng mga sementeryo ngayong Undas para iwas-COVID-19, pinag-aaralan ng IATF

Robie de Guzman   •   September 10, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Pinag-aaralan ng Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) ang panukalang isara ang mga sementeryo sa darating na undas bilang pag-iingat sa banta ng coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Ayon kay Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, nakatakdang magpulong ang IATF upang pag-usapan kung dapat nga bang isara ang mga sementeryo sa Nobyembre 1 at 2 upang maiwasan ang kumpulan ng mga tao.

Suhestyon naman ng opisyal, magtalaga na lamang ng mga araw at mga limitasyon, partikular na sa bilang ng mga maaaring magtungo sa mga libingan nang maiwasan ang pagdagsa ng mga tao.

“Titingnan po natin akung ano ang magiging aksyon ng IATF. Ako mismo ang aking recommendation, gawin na lang nating hindi all saints days, kundi mag-allot siguro ng apat hanggang 5 araw, depende sa family name ng namatay at kung sino ang pwedeng pumunta sa sementeryo nang hindi po lahat magdagsaan sa isang araw po lamang,” ani Roque.

“Pero tingnan po natin kung ano ang magiging desisyon ng IATF,” dagdag pa niya.

Una nang inanunsyo ng mga lokal na pamahalaan ng Maynila, San Juan, at Angeles sa Pampanga ang pagsasara ng mga sementeryo sa kani-kanilang lugar sa darating na undas, mula Oktubre 31 hanggang Nobyembre 2

Ang lokal na pamahalaan naman ng Marikina, isasara din ang mga sementeryo sa mga nabanggit na petsa pero papayagan ang limitadong pagpunta doon mula Oktubre 15 hanggang 30.

May ibibigay ring “cemetery pass” at schedule ng pagtungo sa sementeryo upang maiwasan ang pagdagsa ng mga tao at hawahan sa gitna ng coronavirus pandemic.

Pili lang ang mabibigyan ng pass at hindi kasama rito ang mga bata at senior citizen na hindi pinapayagang lumabas ngayong may community quarantine.

Isang beses lang din maaaring gamitin ang pass at dalawa lang bawat pamilya ang pwedeng makakuha nito. RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Vincent Arboleda)


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