French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday (April 13) announced he was extending a virtual lockdown to curb the coronavirus outbreak until May 11, adding that progress had been made but the battle not yet won.
Following Italy in extending the lockdown but announcing no immediate easing of restrictive measures as in Spain, Macron said the tense situation in hospitals in Paris and eastern France meant there could be no let-up in the country.
Since March 17, France’s 67 million people have been ordered to stay at home except to buy food, go to work, seek medical care or get some exercise on their own. The lockdown was originally scheduled to end on Tuesday.
Schools and shops would progressively reopen on May 11, Macron said. But restaurants, hotels, cafes and cinemas would have to remain shut longer, he added. International arrivals from non-European countries will remain prohibited until further notice.
Macron, whose government has faced criticism over a shortage of face masks and testing kits, said that by May 11, France would be able to test anyone presenting COVID-19 symptoms and give nonprofessional face masks to the public.
Macron also said he had asked his government to present this week new financial aid for families and students in need.
The French, long accustomed to being told their high taxes paid for the “best healthcare in the world,” have been dismayed by the rationing of critical drugs, face masks and equipment and have watched with envy the situation in neighbouring Germany.
After a relentless increase until the first week of April, the number of patients in French hospitals’ intensive care units has started to decline, prompting health authorities to call a plateau in the epidemic.
But if French hospitals are just about coping, helped by a massive effort to transfer patients by plane, helicopter or even high-speed train from hospitals in the east and Paris to the west, nursing homes have been overwhelmed.
By Monday, the coronavirus had claimed 14,967 lives in France, the fourth-highest death toll in the world, with more than 98,076 confirmed cases, according to official figures. (Reuters)
MANILA, Philippines – Public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers, market vendors and employees of various establishments in the Philippine capital will be provided with free RT-PCR tests, the Manila City government said Wednesday.
In a statement, the city’s public information office said Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso issued the order which will cover employees of malls, hotels, restaurants and supermarkets, and vendors in public markets as well as drivers of e-trikes, pedicabs, tricycles, jeepneys and buses operating in the city.
Under Domagoso’s Executive Order No. 39, the Manila Health Department was tasked to provide free swab tests to said workers.
The order follows the launch of Sta. Ana Hospital’s second molecular laboratory, which has the capacity to process around 1,000 tests daily. The additional laboratory will raise the hospital’s test processing capacity to 30,000 a month.
“The real threat of COVID-19 will continue to persist in our community, thereby sending fear to every person of getting infected with it. This fear will affect not only the individual preferences and behavior or every person, but also the economic growth (of the city),” Domagoso said.
“In order to allay the fear of getting infected with COVID-19, there is a need to assure the public that employees of these frequently visited establishments are COVID-19 free and thus spur economic activities,” he added.
Mayor Isko also directed the Manila Bureau of Permits and Licensing Office, the Department of Tourism, Culture and Arts of Manila, and the Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau to “require establishments under their jurisdiction to require filling up mandatory health declaration forms for contact tracing purposes.”
Parties for all offices under the Quezon City government during the holidays will no longer be held this year amid the continuing novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said Tuesday.
A statement released on Tuesday said Belmonte has issued a memorandum directing all offices under the city hall to cancel parties scheduled in December and instead ordered them to donate the funds to underprivileged groups.
“The money that would have been spent on office Christmas parties would do more good as donations to the underprivileged during this extraordinarily difficult time in our nation’s history,” Belmonte said in a statement.
The local chief executive stressed that “it would be inappropriate for offices of the city government to hold customary Christmas parties while many of its citizens are experiencing hardships due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.”
Instead of holding parties, she urged city hall employees to adopt an underprivileged sector— such as the urban poor, displaced workers, jeepney drivers, street vendors, indigent children, and poor senior citizens— and to modestly celebrate the season in their homes.
MANILA, Philippines – The province of Batanes on Tuesday said it has recorded its first case of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) since the start of the pandemic early this year.
According to Batanes Governor Marilou Cayco, the province reported its first COVID-19 case after a 29-year old resident who returned on Sept. 22 tested positive for the virus.
He has a travel history in Santa Rosa, Laguna. He returned to the province on board a Philippine Air Force plane with 18 others.
Cayco said the patient is asymptomatic and currently under isolation and monitoring of the provincial COVID-19 task force.
She added that all 18 individuals who had close contact with the patient have been subjected to swab test and are now strictly being monitored.
Batanes is currently under a modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) but the local government will recommend to place the province under a two-week GCQ to curb the spread of coronavirus disease.
Cayco said outpost checkpoints will also be set up in all municipalities to monitor and limit the movement of people.
Airport operations and commercial flights to and from the province will also be suspended.
“Medivac lang ang pwedeng pumunta dito in some emergency cases. Pero yung commercial flights pina-stop muna namin,” she said.
The local government reminds residents to follow health protocols such as the wearing of face masks and face shields and observe physical distancing. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dan Gersalia)
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