New Zealanders enjoy life back to normal after social distancing restrictions lifted

UNTV News   •   June 9, 2020   •   374

Life for New Zealanders returned to normal on Tuesday (June 9) as the government lifted all social distancing restrictions except for border controls, after declaring it was free of the coronavirus.

Cafes in New Zealand’s capital of Wellington were seen packed with customers, and public transportation also resumed at full capacity.

New Zealand is one of the first countries in the world to return to pre-pandemic normality, with public and private events, the retail and hospitality industries and all public transport allowed to resume without the distancing rules still in place across much of the world.

The reopening comes after months of restrictions, including about seven weeks of a strict lockdown in which most businesses were shut and everyone except essential workers had to stay home. (Reuters)

(Production: Cordelia hsu)

FDA reiterates COVID-19 vaccination non-mandatory

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 4, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reiterated that vaccination will not be mandatory once a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available in the country.

FDA Director General Eric Domingo said the national government will prioritize the poor in the immunization campaign. The government aims to vaccinate 60 million to 70 million Filipinos in order to reach herd immunity against the virus.

Domingo also reminded the public that minimum health standards should still be practiced even after the availability of a vaccine. He also said that the agency, along with the Department of Health (DOH), is already planning the process for the COVID-19 immunization program. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Local airlines to increase number of flights this holiday season

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Local airlines are preparing to add more flights as more passengers are expected to travel this holiday season just as quarantine restrictions ease.

Philippine Airlines (PAL) spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said the easing of quarantine restrictions can help the airline industry recover from the effects of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“The good news is the Balikbayan Program. This is the easing of travel requirements for balikbayans to entice them to return to the Philippines,” she said.

Villaluna said they are also coordinating with local government units to make sure the minimum health standards are still being implemented.

Local airlines have already partnered with private laboratories for more affordable and faster swab testing of passengers. For PAL and Air Asia, the RT-PCR testing in their accredited diagnostic lab costs P4,000.

Meanwhile, Cebu Pacific launched a “test before boarding” policy which requires passengers to undergo an antigen testing before boarding. The testing in Cebu Pacific is free from December 3 to December 14 but it is only exclusive to passengers en route to General Santos City.

“This is an initiative where we are closely working with the LGU in coming up with this process wherein passengers are required to take an antigen test no more than five hours before their departure time and then the results will come out in 30 minutes,” according to Candice Iyog, vice president for Marketing and Customer Experience of Cebu Pacific.

Local airlines advise passengers to refer to their respective websites for the essential requirements before boarding their flights. AAC (with reports from Joan Nano)

Duterte to attend virtual UN General Assembly on COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   December 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is set to participate in the 31st Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic from December 3 to 4, Malacañang said Thursday.

The Palace said Duterte is expected to deliver the Philippine Statement on December 3, where he will further amplify his call for global solidarity in addressing the challenges posed by the COVID-19.

The president is also expected to raise universal access to the anti-COVID-19 technologies, as well as the need for global efforts to ensure the availability of safe and effective vaccines to peoples of developing nations.

During the 75th UNGA session last September, Duterte also said that COVID-19 vaccines “must not be denied nor withheld,” and that “it should be made available to all, rich and poor nations alike, as a matter of policy.” – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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