MRT-3 to launch own contact tracing app on January 18

Robie de Guzman   •   January 13, 2021   •   147

MANILA, Philippines – The Metro Rail Transit line 3 (MRT-3) will soft launch its own contact tracing application called “MRT-3 Trace” on January 18, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) announced on Wednesday.

“Starting January 18, passengers may use the DOTr MRT-3 Trace. But to give time for our passengers to familiarize themselves with the new app, full implementation will be on February 2021,” MRT-3 Director for Operations Michael Capati said in a statement.

The digitized process of contact tracing is seen to help prevent further transmission of COVID-19.

“MRT-3 Trace is a web application that will help us and the passengers avoid further transmission of the virus through direct contact between our commuters and personnel. It will ease the process of contact tracing, and thus, prevent long queues in stations,” Capati said.

To register, passengers may log at trace.dotrmrt3.gov.ph and fill out the basic information such as full name, birth date, address, and contact number.

After registration, the app user should activate his/her smartphone location services.

When at the MRT-3, passengers need to scan the unique quick response (QR) code located at designated areas in the station.

The user will present the verification message to the security personnel before entering the station.

All information gathered will be transmitted to the MRT-3’s Data Center for security and easy tracing of individuals.

The web application is contactless and only requires a one-time registration for passengers to avoid duplicate accounts. The MRT-3 Trace registration is free.

For passengers who do not have smartphones, they can opt to manually fill-out the health declaration forms provided by the security personnel upon entering the station.

The DOTr assured that the MRT-3 Trace is compliant with Republic Act 1017 or the Data Privacy Act.

400K OFWs sent home during pandemic — DOLE

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 20, 2021

Manila, Philippines — Over 400,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have been sent home since the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

As of January 16, the Labor Department records a total of 410,211 repatriates who have undergone quarantine and were cleared of COVID-19.

“After their ordeal in their country of origin, our dear OFWs were all provided accommodation, food, transportation, and cash assistance by the government. Now, they are safely home with their families,” DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III said.

The latest figures from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration showed that 8,273 OFWs were transported to their respective provinces last week.

An estimate of 60,000 to 80,000 more OFWs are expected to be repatriated this year, according to reports from the various Philippine Overseas Labor Offices of DOLE. AAC

WHO laments world’s poorest countries might get left behind in COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 20, 2021

The World Health Organization (WHO) has lamented that distribution of COVID-19 vaccine to the “world’s poorest countries” could face delays.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said richer countries and several private companies are buying up all the available vaccines. This also causes a spike in prices of COVID-19 vaccines.

“I need to be blunt: the world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure—and the price of this failure will be paid with lives and livelihoods in the world’s poorest countries,” he said.

Ghebreyesus reported that 39 million doses of vaccine have now been administered in at least 49 higher-income countries while only 25 have been administered in one lowest-income country.

“The situation is compounded by the fact that most manufacturers have prioritized regulatory approval in rich countries where the profits are highest, rather than submitting full dossiers to WHO,” he noted.

WHO previously promised free COVID-19 vaccines to poor countries enlisted in the COVAX facility, which includes the Philippines.

The WHO Director General also expressed concerns that the pandemic may last longer if there is no coordination in the vaccine distribution across the globe.

“Not only does this ‘me-first’ approach leave the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people at risk, it’s also self-defeating. Ultimately, these actions will only prolong the pandemic, the restrictions needed to contain it, and human and economic suffering,” he said. AAC (with reports from Mirasol Abogadil)

Tuguegarao City reverts to ECQ after surge in COVID-19 cases

Marje Pelayo   •   January 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The city of Tuguegarao has been placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) again starting January 20 until January 29.

The latest restriction came after 81 new active cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection were reported in only one day.

The new tally raised alarm among local government officials due to the continuous spike in COVID-19 cases in the city following the holiday season.

In an interview, Tuguegarao City Mayor Jefferson Soriano said the number of cases was manageable for the first few days of January. The number surged, however, starting January 16 thus the change in their decision.

Governor Manuel Mamba of Cagayan, meanwhile, joined Soriano in endorsing to the regional Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) the imposition of ECQ for Tuguegarao City.

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