Limited in-person classes in some schools in NCR Plus temporarily suspended – CHED

Robie de Guzman   •   March 31, 2021   •   487

MANILA, Philippines – The conduct of limited face-to-face classes in select higher education institutions (HEI) has been temporarily suspended amid the surge in COVID-19 cases in the country, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said.

During the Laging Handa public briefing on Tuesday, CHED Commissioner Prospero de Vera III said HEIs that were allowed to conduct limited in-person classes, especially those in areas that were under the enhanced community quarantine, have temporarily canceled their physical classes.

A total of 24 universities and colleges nationwide offering allied health science courses have been allowed to hold limited face-to-face classes following the approval of President Rodrigo Duterte in January.

But De Vera clarified that HEIs in the National Capital Region (NCR), Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, and Laguna have already suspended their limited in-person classes since these are classified as COVID-19 high incidence areas.

The NCR and four nearby areas – collectively tagged as NCR Plus – are under ECQ until April 4.

Some HEIs even pulled out their clinical interns before there was a surge in COVID-19 cases.

“Bago pa mag-issue ang IATF [Inter-Agency Task Force] nitong ECQ, ay actually itinigil na nila,” he said.

“Unang-una, binawi nila yung mga estudyante galing sa mga ospital dahil yang mga ospital mismo eh nagsabi na mataas na ang incidence ng COVID at hindi masyadong ligtas ang mga batang pumunta doon si pinull-out na nila yung clinical interns nila even before tumaas, nagsisimula tumaas yung COVID cases,” he added.

In low-risk areas, on the other hand, De Vera said limited in-person classes are still ongoing.

“At dito sa NCR, lahat noong limited face-to-face ay nakatigil habang kinu-control natin ang virus. Pero sa ibang mga lugar sa Pilipinas na hindi naman naka-ECQ, doon ay mayroon pang limited face-to-face (classes),” he said.

De Vera said that based on the joint guidelines issued by CHED and the Department of Health, the conduct of limited in-person classes will be suspended if the cases of COVID-19 in those areas continue to increase or if a student contracts the virus.

“Ang guidelines nito eh ‘pag may nag-positive sa mga estudyante, automatic, itinitigil ang limited face to face. Hindi question ang kung ilan, kung meron, automatic ititigil. Yan ang guidelines,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Joan Nano)

‘Maskless holiday’ sa Disyembre, target ng pamahalaan — Malakanyang

Robie de Guzman   •   June 17, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Tiwala ang Malakanyang na maaabot ng Pilipinas ang minimithing ‘maskless holiday’ ngayong Disyembre sa gitna ng nagpapatuloy na vaccination program ng pamahalaan kontra COVID-19.

Ayon kay Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, malaki ang kumpiyansa ng pamahalaan na makakamit ang target na ito gaya ng nararanasan na ngayon sa ilang bansa.

“Kaya po yan. kaya nga po we are aiming for population protection… Kasi alam na natin sa mga bansang nakamit na nila ang containment, hindi na sila nagmamaskara at least sa outdoors gaya po ng Israel at ilang lugar sa Amerika,” ani Roque.

Sa datos ng pamahalaan as of June 16, 5.51 milyon na ang nakatanggap ng first dose ng COVID-19 vaccine sa buong bansa.Nasa 2.012 milyon naman ang nakakumpleto na ng doses.

Una nang sinabi ng pamahalaan na target nitong mabakunahan ang nasa 70 milyong mamamayan ngayong taon.

Ayon naman sa biological sciences expert na si Nicanor Austriaco, achievable ang target na ito kung hindi magkakaroon ng problema sa pagdating ng supply ng bakuna sa bansa.

Kailangan ding umabot sa 250,000 doses ang mai-administer sa isang araw sa National Capital Region (NCR) Plus areas mula ngayong buwan ng Hunyo hanggang November 30, 2021 upang maabot ang containment sa greater manila area gayundin ang tinatatarget na herd immunity.

“I follow the number of vaccinations in the NCR Plus 8, we have the capacity as long as we have the supply. I am hopeful that the supplies are arriving based on the schedule that Sec. (Carlito) Galvez has published,” ani Austriaco.

Giit pa nito, dapat mauna ang herd immunity kontra COVID-19 sa NCR plus upang maiwasan ang nangyaring spill over ng coronavirus infections sa iba pang bahagi ng bansa.

Sinabi rin ni Austriaco na hindi ginagamit ang bakuna upang tugunan ang kasalukuyang mabilis na pagtaas ng COVID-19 cases sa ilang bahagi ng bansa kundi upang maiwasan ang future surge na karaniwang nag-uumpisa sa Greater Manila area. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

IATF to meet Thursday to discuss face shield policy – Nograles

Robie de Guzman   •   June 17, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) is set to meet on Thursday afternoon to discuss the government’s response to COVID-19 pandemic.

In a message, IATF co-chairperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said among the topics that will be tackled in the meeting is the use of face shields.

“May IATF kami mamaya. Pag-uusapan namin,” he said.

The policy on face shield wearing made headlines anew after Senate President Vicente Sotto III and other lawmakers shared with the public their conversation with President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang on Wednesday about the limited use of face shield.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque later confirmed the lawmakers’ statements that the president did say that face shields should only be worn in hospitals.

Roque said the president’s decision becomes a policy but there is a possibility that the IATF will appeal if the face shield rule will be loosened.

Nograles assured they will immediately announce if there are any changes in health protocols.

“If there is any announcement sa bagong protocol, ilalabas namin,” he said.

Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega earlier said that shields may be removed when outdoors.

Under existing protocols, face shields are required to be worn in the following areas:

  • Enclosed public spaces
  • Schools
  • Workplaces
  • Commercial establishments
  • Public transport and terminals
  • Places of worship

Face shields should also be worn in other areas where one-meter physical distancing is not possible and there is a gathering of more than 10 people at the same venue at the same time.

OCTA Research fellow and Biological Sciences Professor Nicanor Austriaco also said that face shields offer a certain degree of protection against COVID-19 especially in areas with high infection rate.

“Especially now in those areas undergoing surge, I recommend in high-risk areas whether there is surge, the 9% may be important. But here in Metro Manila, for example, when you are outside and there is no-one around you, I think it is reasonable to say that lowering the risk by 9% maybe something we’re able to tolerate in order to mitigate some of the burden that we have for the Filipino people,” he said.

The Department of Health earlier rejected proposals to drop the use of face shields, as the country’s COVID-19 vaccination coverage remains low.

Delta COVID-19 variant, 60% na mas nakakahawa kumpara sa Alpha variant ayon sa ilang pag-aaral

Robie de Guzman   •   June 16, 2021

Higit na nakakahawa ang Delta variant ng coronavirus disease (COVID-19) kung ikukumpara sa iba pang natuklasang variant ayon sa Department of Health (DOH).

Ayon kay DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, lumabas sa ilang pag-aaral na 60 porsiyentong mas nakakahawa ang Delta variant na unang natuklasan sa India kumpara sa Alpha variant na unang napaulat sa United Kingdom.

“Iyong UK Variant po noong unang lumabas, sinabi nila na ito ay 50-60% more transmissible. So iyong existing po na variant natin ngayon for SARS-COV2 dadagdagan niyo ng 60% more transmissible so talagang mabilis po ang pagkakahawa-hawa,” ani Vergeire.

“Pero noong lumabas ang Indian Variant, it’s 60% more transmissible than the UK variant so it means that the existing variant that we have on top of UK and then there’s Indian Variant sobrang bilis na po ng pagkakahawa-hawa,” dagdag pa niya.

Buwan ng Mayo nang isama sa listahan ng variants of concern ng World Health Organization ang Delta variant.

Ibig sabihin, may mga ebidensyang nagpapakitang mas mabilis ang pagkalat nito, mas nakahahawa at sanhi ito ng mas malala o severe na pagkakasakit ng isang nagpositibo sa COVID-19.

Ayon sa United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ang Delta variant ay nakakabawas din sa epekto ng gamot o bakuna kontra COVID-19.

Batay sa mga pag-aaral sa United Kingdom, ang Delta variant rin ang nakitang dahilan ng mabilis na paglobo ng COVID-19 cases sa nasabing lugar.

Una nang iniulat na ang nasabing uri ng COVID-19 rin ang sanhi ng mabilis na pagtaas ng kaso sa India.

Sa Pilipinas, 13 ang natukoy na kaso ng Delta variant – dalawa sa mga ito ay pawang balikbayan na may travel history sa India.

Wala pang kumpirmasyon ang DOH sa ngayon kung Delta ang umiiral na COVID-19 variant ngayon sa mga lugar sa bansa na may mataas na kaso.

Sa ngayon ay nagpapatupad na ang Pilipinas ng travel restriction sa mga biyahero mula sa India at anim pang mga bansa na may kaso na rin ng nasabing variant.

Paalala naman ng DOH sa publiko na palagiang sumunod sa health protocols upang maiwasan ang hawaan ng COVID-19.

“Lagi natin tatandaan, variants are produced if there is a host, kapag mataas ang kaso mas maraming mag-mutate na virus, mas maraming variants na ipo-produce pero kapag na-maintain natin na mababa ang kaso kakaunti lang ang kapasidad ng virus na mag-mutate pa siya at mag- produce pa ng further variants,” ani Vergeire. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

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