IATF proposes school opening in September, awaits DepEd recommendation

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 24, 2020   •   703

File photo of a public school teacher

The Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has proposed to move the opening of the school year to September amid the continued threat of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

However, they would still have to wait for the recommendation of the Department of Education (DepEd) regarding the official opening of classes.

DepEd is already mulling over postponing the opening of classes for the safety of the students amid the COVID-19 threat.

Acting National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Karl Chua said Republic Act no. 7977 states that the school year shall start on the first Monday of June but not later than the last day of August.

“Hanggang end of August puwede naman po, so hintayin na lang po natin ang Deped para mag-present at ang IATF ang magsasabi kung policy na po (It is still allowed until the end of August, we will wait for Deped’s presentation then the IATF will announce if it is already a policy),” he said. AAC (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

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DOH recommends repeat COVID-19 tests for inbound passengers on 5th day of arrival

Marje Pelayo   •   January 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) has recommended to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Technical Working Group the requirement of a repeat swab test from incoming travelers five days after their arrival.

This will be an additional prerequisite aside from the initial swab test they need to undergo upon arrival.

The DOH said such a follow-up test is necessary after reports that the co-passengers of the male patient with the UK variant from Dubai also tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) despite testing negative upon arrival.

According to Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, it is best to have a repeat swab test to get a more accurate result.

“We have to repeat the testing on the fifth day after they have arrived before we release them to the LGUs,” she said,

“Sa ganitong paraan maaari po nating makita and appropriate po ang timing noong testing and we can be more certain kung talagang negatibo o positibo itong pasyente na ating na-test,” she added.

Meanwhile, the DOH confirmed that another passenger in the same flight as the country’s first case of COVID-19 UK variant also tested positive for the virus.

The patient was among those who yielded a negative result upon arrival but tested positive in the repeat test.

Overall, there are now 14 close contacts of “patient zero” that tested positive for COVID-19.

The DOH is awaiting results of the genome sequencing in six of the 14 patients to determine if any of them contracted the UK variant.

Among the six are the male patient’s mother and partner.

According to the DOH, all inbound passengers regardless of their country of origin should serve a 14-day mandatory quarantine even if they get negative results in the fifth day repeat test.

“Kapag nag-negative po sila, sila po ay pinapayagang bumalik sa kanilang local government basta with the condition that the local government will monitor them and continue their quarantine in their local government,” Vergeire noted.

IATF is expected to approve the recommendation of a mandatory 5th-day testing in the coming days. MNP (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

PH gov’t forms panel to monitor, identify occurrence of new COVID-19 variants

Robie de Guzman   •   January 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The government’s task force against COVID-19 has created a panel of experts tasked to monitor and identify the occurrence of new coronavirus variants in the country, Malacañang said Wednesday.

The Palace said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) established the technical working group on COVID-19 variants on Tuesday, in compliance with the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The group will be headed by Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, and Executive Director jaime Montoya of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development will serve as co-chair.

Other members of the technical working group are the following:

  • Dr. Anna Ong-Lim of the DOH Technical Advisory Group (TAG)
  • Dr. Marissa Alejandria of the DOH TAG
  • Dr. Edsel Maurice Salvana of the DOH TAG
  • Dr. Celia Carlos of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine
  • Dr. Eva Maria Cutiongco-dela Paz of the University of the Philippines National Institutes of Health
  • Dr. Cynthia Saloma of the University of the Philippines – Philippine Genome Center
  • Dr. John Wong of Epimetrics

The technical working group will also provide policy recommendations to the IATF on the appropriate response regarding these coronavirus variants.

The IATF likewise resolved that all foreign travelers coming from countries/jurisdictions covered by travel restrictions for the new variant of COVID-19, or with a travel history in those areas within the last 14 days prior to arrival in the Philippines shall not be permitted entry to the Philippines.

Local/accredited foreign diplomats and international organizations such as the World Health Organization and the United Nations shall be exempted from quarantine protocols as long as they will undergo RT-PCR test upon arrival in the country, execute an undertaking, and observe strict 14-day quarantine.

Also exempted are foreign dignitaries who shall observe existing testing and quarantine protocols upon arrival and those for medical and emergency cases, including their medical escorts.

On the other hand, Filipino citizens coming from countries/jurisdictions where travel restrictions are in place, or who have been to the said areas within 14 days immediately preceding arrival in the Philippines shall strictly observe a facility-based quarantine period, except for highly exceptional and / or medical reasons, which the DOH would determine.

In addition, any individual arriving in the Philippines who may have received vaccination for COVID-19 in other countries/jurisdictions shall still be required to observe the mandatory testing and quarantine protocols.

Gov’t agencies to issue guidelines on use of face shields, IATF says

Robie de Guzman   •   December 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-MEID) on Friday said that government agencies will come up with a consolidated guidelines on the proper use of  face shields, including exclusions or exemptions.

The IATF said the consolidated advisory will be released by the Department of Health (DOH). Department of Trade and Industry, and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and other agencies.

The task force’s directive comes after Malacañang’s announcement on the mandatory use of face mask and full-coverage face shields when leaving their homes.

The government previously required the wearing of face shields only in establishments and public transport.

Health authorities earlier said the latest policy is necessary to curb the spread of novel coronavirus disease.

The Philippines has so far recorded 454,447 COVID-19 infections with 8,850 deaths.

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