Japan’s PM Abe extends state of emergency until end of May

UNTV News   •   May 4, 2020   •   606

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday (May 4) he has decided to extend the country’s national state of emergency to the end of the month.

Abe will consider lifting the nationwide state of emergency without waiting for its May 31 expiration if expert advisors decide that is possible based on detailed analysis of regional infection trends, he said at a meeting of the government’s coronavirus task force.

He said his advisors said that Japan had not seen the explosive surge in infections seen in some countries overseas, but the number of new infection cases had not fallen enough and there were regions where the medical system was facing strains.

For the 13 prefectures including Tokyo and Osaka that have been hardest hit, a target of reducing person-to-person contacts by 80% would remain in place, Abe said. Japan will move gradually to a framework that will combine prevention of the spread of infections with maintaining social and economic activities, he added. (Reuters)

(Production: Akira Tomoshige, Hideto Sakai)

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)

DOJ dismisses complaint vs Koko Pimentel on violating quarantine protocols

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) has dismissed the complaint against Senator Aquilino Pimentel due to a lack of probable cause.

Private lawyer and former law dean Rico Quicho filed a complaint against Pimentel for violating Republic Act No. 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events Act of 2018.

In March of last year, the Makati Medical Center (MMC) reported that the senator breached the MMC-Delivery Complex’s strict infection and containment protocols.

Quicho’s complaint alleged that Pimentel breached quarantine protocols after escorting his wife at the MMC while still undergoing quarantine.

In a statement, the Office of the Prosecutor-General said the Senator is not obliged to report under the said Republic Act since it is meant for public health authorities.

“Senator Koko Pimentel is not a public health authority (i.e. he is not the DOH, the RITM, the Epidemiology Bureau), therefore, not obliged to report under R.A. No. 11332. The mandatory reporting under R.A. No. 11332 was meant for public health authorities only,” according to the Office of the Prosecutor-General.

It added that Pimentel was also not aware of his condition when he was escorting his wife in the hospital and that he immediately cooperated upon learning of his condition.

“There was nothing to report then when he went to S&R BGC on 16 March 2020 or at MMC hospital on 24 March 2020 for Senator Koko Pimentel only knew or learned about his condition of being positive for COVID-19 on the same day – 24 March 2020, while he was already at the premises of the hospital,” the statement further reads.

Meanwhile, in a short statement, the senator welcomed the ruling of the DOJ.

“That decision is unassailable and correct. Tama naman yan. The complaint criminally charged me for violation of non-penal DOH issuances which are not even addressed to me. How can something non criminal all of a sudden become criminal when you are not even expected to be knowledgeable or an expert about their contents?” Pimentel said.

“And the person who charged me was not even anywhere near me or the place of the incident. Kakapagtaka why he became all of a sudden the source of the allegations,” he added.

On the other hand, Atty. Quicho expressed his dismay over the said verdict.

He pointed out how policies change “arbitrarily contingent on who receives the shorter end of a stick.”

“We are sadly reminded of a fish vendor in Quezon City who was violently arrested for failure to comply with government regulations. He was beaten with a stick, dragged, and humiliated in public,” Quicho said. -AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)


Bill on ‘vaccine passport’ program filed at Senate

Robie de Guzman   •   January 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines A bill seeking to establish a vaccine passport program in the country has been filed at the Senate ahead of the roll-out of the government’s COVID-19 vaccination program.

In filing Senate Bill No. 1999 or the “Vaccine Passport Program Act,” Senator Pia Cayetano proposes the creation of a registry of individuals who have been inoculated with which kind of vaccine, when and how many doses were administered, and other matters related to the government’s vaccination plan.

The vaccine passport shall contain the following standard information: manufacturer, brand name, and batch number or other identifiers of the COVID-19 vaccine; date of vaccination; the name of the hospital, health center, or health facility where the vaccine was received; and name, signature and license number of the duly licensed physician, nurse or other health worker administering the vaccine.

Cayetano said the vaccine passport shall primarily be digital but shall also be available through printed copies.

She said this program will help the government keep track of every Filipino’s record of COVID-19 vaccinations and monitor the distribution of vaccines and their effect on individuals.

The measure further recommended that holders of vaccine passports be granted certain benefits or exemptions, subject to guidelines issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

These benefits could include international travel, as may be allowed in foreign jurisdictions; non-essential domestic travel; local checkpoint and quarantine exemptions; and access to business establishments allowed to operate during the New Normal.

The bill also stated that “individuals vaccinated against COVID-19 as indicated in the Vaccine Passport shall not be considered immune from COVID-19 unless otherwise declared by the Department of Health based on reliable scientific evidence and consensus.”

The measure mandates the Department of Health to issue the implementing guidelines for the proposed program.

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