Metro Manila residents enjoy change in environment, lifestyle under ECQ

Maris Federez   •   March 25, 2020   •   2197

MANILA, Philippines — Residents in the National Capital Region (NCR) have noticed a significant improvement in the quality of the air in the metropolis.

The smoke being emitted by factories and transport vehicles and the traffic congestion that have become the norm in the lives of Metro Manila residents have lessened since the Luzon region was placed under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

The said measure was instituted to address the threats of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) that continues to spread in Metro Manila and several parts of Luzon.

The ECQ has also changed the lifestyle of Metro Manila residents, as some have learned the benefits of walking to their destinations and buying only the essential things for themselves and their families.

The suspension of all types of public transportation has paved the way for the air to clear and for the traffic to decongest.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said the air quality or particulate matter 10 has significantly changed.

“Ngayon kung titingnan natin nag a-average tayo from good to fair so napakaganda, nakapakaganda nung air quality natin ngayon,” said DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda.

PM10 or the “inhalable particles”, are particles equal to or smaller than 10 microns (PM10) that can reach the throat and the lungs.

A UNTV Drone shot presented a smog-free skyline of Manila and Bonifacio Global City in Taguig as compared to the previous pollution that was once visible in the said places.

The environment department believes that the suspension of public transportation and the reduced number of private vehicles traveling have done the environment a big favor.

“Visually kita natin talagang ang laki mula sa umaga wala yung smog na nakikita natin na akala mo pa ay ma-fog yung buong NCR pero yun pala ay polusyon yun,” Antiporda added.

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has also observed that crime and accidents have considerably decreased in Metro Manila and in Region 3 after the enhanced community quarantine was implemented in the entire Luzon.

According to PNP spokesperson, PBGen. Bernard Banac, the crime rate in Luzon had gone down by 80 percent.

“In fact bumaba po ng almost eighty percent ang crime rate hindi lamang dito sa kalakhang Maynila maging sa region at iba pang dako ng Luzon,” Banac said.

Banac added that the latest PNP record shows that road accidents since the ECQ was put in place until March 24 totaled to only 81, a considerably low number compared to the average 50 per day on ordinary days. — (with details from Dante Amento) /mbmf

Non-compliance with minimum health standards is like choosing to become transmission agent — Duque

Maris Federez   •   January 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III on Saturday (January 23) emphasized that breaches in compliance with the minimum public health standards are the primary driver of infection and mutation of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“What may seem as a minor breach in the protocol or a misstep in our masking and coughing etiquettes can lead to a spike in cases. The next time we place our masks below our chins, raise our face shields above our heads, or the next time we go out and mingle just because we can without fear of consequences, we are choosing to become an agent of transmission,” the health chief said.

Duque made the statement during the virtual press conference announcing the detection of 16 additional cases of the UK variant of the deadly disease in the country.

The health official called on the public to continue doing the preventive measures – and doing them properly – as these seemingly insignificant actions may spell the difference in the lives of other people down the chain of infection.

Duque underscored that the actions of each and everyone can save the lives of people by preventing transmission.

“It is the little things that can stop the spread of disease–the proper wearing of a mask and face shield may be uncomfortable at times, but enduring a little discomfort can save lives,” he said.

Meanwhile, the country has recorded 1,797 new COVID-19 cases, as of 4pm, January 23, bringing the total number of active cases to 33,603.

The department also noted 166 recoveries and 54 fatalities, tallying total recoveries to 467,886 and deaths to 10,190. — /mbmf

UK Covid-19 variant may be more deadly —British PM

Maris Federez   •   January 23, 2021

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that the UK variant of the coronavirus disease may not just be more infectious but could also be more deadly.

“We have now learned that, in addition to spreading more quickly, the new variant of the virus may also be associated with a higher degree of mortality,” the prime minister said.

With this development, Johnson urged the public to be more cautious and avoid unnecessary travels or going out.

“It is therefore more important than ever that we all remain vigilant in following the rules and that we stay at home, protect the NHS and thereby save lives,” he added.

According to UK Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance, research shows that the number of fatalities caused by the new variant is higher than that of the original strain.

“If you took… a man in their 60s, the average risk is that for 1,000 people who got infected, roughly 10 would be expected to unfortunately die with the virus. With the new variant, for 1,000 people infected, roughly 13 or 14 people might be expected to die,” said Vallance.

Vallance and Johnson, however, assured that the vaccine they use against the new COVID-19 variant is effective in fighting the virus.

“Both the vaccines we’re currently using remain effective both against the old variant and this new variant,” Johnson said. —/mbmf

Experts detect 16 additional UK-variant cases in Phl

Maris Federez   •   January 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH), UP-Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC), and the UP-National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) have confirmed the detection of the B.1.1.7 SARS-Cov-2 variant in 16 additional COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 17.

The DOH said in a statement on Friday (January 22) that 12 of the 16 additional cases of B.1.1.7, or more commonly called UK variant, are from Bontoc, Mountain Province, consisting of seven males and five females. Three are aged below 18 years old and another three are above 60.

Contact tracing was immediately initiated to contain the spread of the infection with investigation still underway to identify these cases’ exposure and travel histories, it added.

The health department also reported that the two other patients with the UK variant are returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) who arrived on December 29, 2020 from Lebanon, one of the countries included in the travel restrictions due to the detection of the B.1.1.7 variant. They were aboard Philippine Airlines flight PR 8661.

The first case, a 64-year old female whose indicated local address is Jaro, Iloilo City, was isolated in San Juan, Metro Manila and was discharged on January 9. The other, a 47-year old Filipina whose reported local address is Binangonan in Rizal, was quarantined in New Clark City and discharged from isolation on January 13.

The last two B.1.1.7 variant cases are local cases detected in La Trinidad, Benguet, currently admitted in a Benguet Temporary Treatment and Monitoring Facility; and in Calamba City, Laguna who had been discharged after receiving a negative result on January 16.

The DOH said both have no known contact to any confirmed case or travel history from outside the country.

Of the additional 16 cases with B.1.1.7 variant detected, 3 have already recovered, 13 are active cases—3 of which are asymptomatic and 10 are exhibiting mild symptoms.

Meanwhile, the local government of Bontoc has urged the public to intensify adherence to basic health protocols.

Bontoc Mayor Franklin Odsey said lockdown is still in effect.

“Rest assured that the LGU is doing its best to help deter further spread. We will update you as soon as possible as to intensified measures that the MIATF would be undertaking. Official statements and updates shall be released by DOH, PLGU and MLGU,” Odsey said.

The local chief executive also appealed for everyone to “cooperate and let us keep safe. Let us all be part of the solution. Together, we shall overcome. We work as One; we heal as One!”

The health department ensured the public that biosurveillance is in place and will continue to expand its capacities to detect all COVID variants of public health importance.

“The DOH calls on local government units to ensure strict monitoring and compliance to quarantine protocols in their respective localities. The DOH also reiterates that non-adherence and incorrect adherence to minimum public health standards (MPHS) are the drivers of transmission and mutation and therefore strongly urges the public to strictly and properly follow the MPHS in all settings,” the health department advisory concluded.—/mbmf

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