It’s final: Duterte says use of face shields indoors and outdoors still mandatory

Robie de Guzman   •   June 22, 2021   •   504

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has retained the policy on the mandatory use of face shields in both enclosed and open-air settings after the Philippines detected more cases of the more contagious COVID-19 variants, particularly the Delta variant first reported in India.

During his weekly “Talk to the People” address late Monday, Duterte said he was only “shooting the breeze” with lawmakers when he mentioned that face shields should only be worn in hospitals.

He also clarified that he “never said with finality” that the government would do away with the mandatory use of face shields.

 When I mentioned about the face shield, I was only shooting the breeze with the members of the Congress who were there,” Duterte said. “I never said with finality that we will do away with the face shield.”

Duterte was referring to the conversation he had with some senators in Malacañang last Wednesday, which was shared with the public by Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senator Joel Villanueva.

“Now, I will agree with you, considering that this [Delta] variant is very aggressive and it can proliferate in so much shorter period of time, we may experience a second wave much more serious than the first,” he said.

“Yung nangyari sa atin yung first wave, it has depleted really the resources of the government. Another one would be disastrous for this country. That is why the stricter you are, the better,” he went on.

Duterte also apologized and admitted that openly discussing the policy might have not been a good idea.

“I will apologize to the Filipino people kay this thing was discussed openly and many thought that we were ready to do away with the face mask, but with the kind of aggressive infection that poses a very gave danger to… I know that it is inconvenient really to be wearing the mask, adjusting it from time to time. But that is just a small price to pay than rather gamble with doing away with it and courting disaster,” he said.

“Kasi ang transmission, it’s accepted by all that it can be transmitted to the eyes and to the nose. So I’m left with no recourse but really to adopt your recommendation,” he said, addressing the members of the task force and the health advisers also present during the public briefing.

Duterte last week told some senators that the use of face shield should only be limited to hospitals, but the COVID-19 task force urged him to continue requiring its use in enclosed spaces and in public places.

The Department of Health earlier reported that the country now has recorded a total of 17 cases of Delta COVID-19 variant, which is said to be more transmissible than the original coronavirus strain.

The said variant, which triggered a catastrophic wave of cases in India, is fast becoming the globally dominant variant of the viral disease according to the World Health Organization.

IATF amends guidelines in NCR alert level 4 restrictions

Robie de Guzman   •   September 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (AITF-MEID) has amended the guidelines for the implementation of the Alert Level 4 in the National Capital Region (NCR), Malacañang said Friday.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the revised guidelines will take effect on October 1 should the pilot implementation of the alert level system be extended next month.

The new strategy is being imposed in virus hotspots in the NCR until September 30.

The amendments recently approved by the IATF include allowing individual outdoor exercises within general area of residence for persons not required to remain in their respective homes.

Authorities earlier allowed outdoor exercises for residents regardless of health and vaccination status, but they shall only be limited to moving within their village or barangay.

Gatherings for necrological services, wakes, inurnment, funerals for those who died of causes other than COVID-19 and for the cremains of COVID-19 deceased shall be allowed.

Attendance to these services, however, will only be limited to immediate family members, the IATF said.

All contact sports, whether indoor or outdoor, will remain prohibited. Those being conducted under a “bubble-type” setup are exempted.

Personal care establishments and home services are still not allowed. These services include aesthetic and cosmetic services or procedures, make up services, spas, reflexology, wellness, and holistic services and other similar procedures.

Positive COVID-19 antigen test results now included in case count – IATF

Robie de Guzman   •   September 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The number of individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 through rapid antigen tests will now be included in the Philippines’ case count, Malacañang said Friday.

In a televised briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) reached the decision during their meeting on Thursday in an aim to improve the reporting of COVID-19 cases.

“’Yan po ang ating objective para mas maging mabuti yung picture natin kung ilan ang total cases natin,” Roque said.

He, however, clarified that these tests will be subjected to confirmatory tests.

The use of antigen test is mostly effective for people who already manifested symptoms within the first five days of their onset as the viral load of the patient is at the highest during this time.

In line with this, the IATF directed the Department of Health NCR Center for Health Development to monitor and facilitate registration of facilities using rapid antigen kits.

They must also ensure that antigen line tests are collected and consolidated from health facilities, localities, as well as temporary treatment and monitoring facilities.

“Kaugnay nito, ang Department of Health NCR Center for Health Development ay inatasang mag-facilitate ng registration ng facilities na gumagamit ng rapid antigen kits,” he said.

“Augmentation of disease surveillance surveillance staff and encoders are considered to ensure that line lists are generated and submitted on a daily basis,” he added.

As of Sept. 23, the Philippines has 165,780 active COVID-19 cases based on DOH data.

COVID-19 vaccines administered in PH now at 43 million – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   September 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has so far administered a total of 43,088,582 COVID-19 doses since the vaccination program was rolled out in March, Malacañang said Friday.

During a televised briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that 23,416,857 people in the country have received their first shot while 19,671,725  are already fully vaccinated.

Roque said this is 25.50 percent of the country’s target population to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Philippine government is looking to inoculate up to 90 percent of the country’s population to achieve protection against coronavirus infections.

Roque also reported that in the National Capital Region, a total of 15,175,704 doses have been administered.

The figure is 69.93 percent of the total vaccination target in the capital region.

Of these vaccine jabs, 8,339,430 were given as first dose while 6,836,274 were administered as second doses, he added.

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