IATF OKs 10% dine-in capacity; barbershops, parlors at 30% in MECQ areas

Robie de Guzman   •   April 29, 2021   •   344

MANILA, Philippines – Dine-in operations at restaurants will now be allowed at 10 percent capacity, while barbershops and parlors may resume operations at 30 percent in modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) areas, Malacañang announced.

In a statement on Thursday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force has approved the recommendation to “allow restaurants, eateries, commissaries, and other food preparation establishments to resume their indoor dine-in services in areas under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) at an initial 10% venue or seating capacity.”

“These food preparation establishments, however, may operate their indoor dine-in services beyond this limitation, provided that they comply with Joint Memorandum Circular No. 21-01 (s. 2021) or the Safety Seal Certification Program,” Roque said.

The Palace official also said that the IATF has likewise allowed the resumption of operations of beauty salons, beauty parlors, barbershops, and nail spas at an initial 30% venue or seating capacity in MECQ areas.

“Moreover, these establishments shall only provide services that can accommodate the wearing of face masks at all times by clients and service providers,” he added.

These personal care establishments may operate beyond the 30 percent limitation, provided that they comply with Joint Memorandum Circular No. 21-01 (s.2021) or the Safety Seal Certification Program.

“Personal care establishments and services not mentioned above shall not be allowed to operate,” Roque said.

President Rodrigo earlier placed the National Capital Region and the adjacent provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite, and Laguna under extended MECQ until May 14.

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Philippines’ Covid tally up by 6,959

Marje Pelayo   •   June 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) logged an additional 6,959 new cases to the country’s Covid-19 count and raising the tally to  1,353,220 on Saturday (June 19).

The latest figure pushes the total number of active cases to 59,439.

Meanwhile, 9,407 individuals have recovered from the virus. This brings the total number of recoveries since the pandemic began to 1,270, 243.

The coronavirus-related deaths also rose to  23,538 with  153 new fatalities.

The DOH noted that the current active cases is only 4.4% of the total positive cases recorded since the pandemic.

Based on the latest report, all DOH laboratories are fully operational since June 17, 2021 and only six laboratories have not yet forwarded their respective data to the agency’s COVID-19 Document Repository System (CDRS).

These six laboratories comprise about 3.5% of the overall samples tested and 3.9% of the total number of COVID positive individuals.

Expert still recommends use of face shield vs COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   June 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — An infectious disease specialist and government adviser still recommends the use of face shields even in open-air settings due to the continuous threat of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and its highly contagious variants.

Dr. Edsel Salvana of the Department of Health (DOH) Technical Advisory Group said on Friday that he would still insist on the use of a face shield as it offers a layer of protection against COVID-19 variants, particularly the Delta and Alpha variants.

Citing several studies, Salvana said the Delta variant, which first emerged in India, is up to four times more transmissible than the original coronavirus and the Alpha variant.

“Sa pag-aaral, ang Delta variant is 60 percent more transmissible than Alpha, ano ba yung Alpha? Ang Alpha yun yung UK variant, which is already 60 percent more transmissible than the original virus. So 60 percent plus 60 percent pa so halos four times po ang pwedeng maging increased transmissibility nito,” he said during the Laging Handa public briefing.

He added that preliminary data also show that the Delta variant is about 40 percent more contagious even in outdoor settings.

“So para sa akin, kahit pa sabihin nila na hindi na required ang face shield lalo na with the threat of this Delta variant, gagamit pa rin talaga ako ng face shield, I will recommend it because it is an extra layer of protection,” he said.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday said the existing policy on the use of face shields against COVID-19 will remain in effect pending the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte on the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force to continue the use of face shields in enclosed or indoor spaces.

These spaces include hospitals, schools, workplaces, commercial establishments such as but not limited to food establishments, malls and public markets, public transport and terminals, and places of worship.

The task force met on Thursday afternoon to discuss the policy on the use of face shields after some senators shared their conversation with Duterte in Malacañang about the limited use of face shields.

Salvana said that should the president decide to remove or limit the use of face shields, he would still wear one as protection against coronavirus variants.

“Hindi ko pipilitin kung ayaw nyong gumamit ng face shield o kung tanggailn yung mandate but I still strongly recommend it lalo na with the threat of the variants. I, myself, when I’m interacting with other people, I will use this face shield po,” he said.

Expert stresses importance of testing on 7th day, 14-day quarantine vs COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   June 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – An infectious disease expert and government adviser has underscored the importance of strictly implementing the mandated testing and quarantine protocols to curb the spread of COVID-19 and its highly transmissible variants in the country.

Dr. Edsel Salvana of the Department of Health (DOH) Technical Advisory Group on Friday said existing protocol requiring returning travelers to the Philippines to undergo a 14-day quarantine period will help stop the entry of more contagious variants, particularly the Delta variant first detected in India.

He said the 14-day quarantine protocol should be coupled with the administration of the RT-PCR test on the seventh day of the quarantine to show an accurate result.

Of the 14 days, travelers are required to spend 10 days in a government facility while the remaining 4 days will be completed at home.

“Ito po ang pamamaraan na kahit may makalusot, kahit mag-false negative pa man yung test, hindi na nakakahawa by the time na matapos ang 14 days na to, mababa na po yung chance na meron pang natitirang virus kahit ma-miss ng tests natin,” Salvana said during the Laging Handa public briefing.

“According to the experts po ng Technical Advisory Group, tiningnan po namin yung datos sa Centers for Disease Control, ang pinaka-safe po talaga na minimum is 10 days facility-based quarantine, followed by 4 days quarantine at home. Hindi na po pwedeng iksian yun, unless ito ngayong pinag-uusapan if vaccinated na po yung traveler,” he added.

Salvana also stressed that the testing should be done on the seventh day because testing a traveler who is newly infected with COVID-19 upon his or her arrival in the Philippines will not show a COVID-19 positive result.

“Sa pag-aaral ng Centers for Disease Control, nakikita po nila na kapag ang isang tao ay nahawaan ng COVID on the day of travel tapos dumating po siya, kung tinest mo yun on arrival, ang tiyansa na mag-positive yung test na yun ay zero percent po kasi kakahawa lang niya,” he said.

“Tapos mananatili po siyang nakakahawa up to 10 days,” he added.

He, however, noted that the viral load on the said individual goes down to 2.4 percent by the 10th day, which lowers the chance of the person transmitting the virus to others.

“Para mawala lalo yung 2% na yun, ina-advise pa rin po natin yung 4 days na home quarantine para tuluyang ligtas po talaga,” he said.

He also said that while the country’s existing travel restrictions for travelers from India and other nations help in controlling the spread of the COVID-10 Delta variant, the stringent implementation of minimum public health standards, including quarantine protocols, is still necessary to break the chain of transmission.

The Philippines has so far recorded 13 cases of Delta variant, one of which has died.

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