No UK COVID-19 variant detected in PH—DOH

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 6, 2021   •   909

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) assured that the UK variant of the SARS-COV-2 virus has not yet been detected in the country.

This is amid reports that one of the passengers of a flight from Manila to Hong Kong tested positive for the said variant.

Based on the report of the Health Department and the Philippine Genome Center (PCG) on Wednesday (January 6), the UK variant has not been detected in any of the 305 positive samples submitted to them from nine institutions.

“The 305 samples analysed by PGC were composed of positive samples from November-December hospital admissions and from inbound travellers who tested positive upon arrival at the airport,” the DOH said.

The department also said it is in close coordination with Hong Kong’s International Health Regulations for further information about the Manila passenger. They also recommended expanding the country’s travel ban.

Initial information states that the variant was found in a 30-year-old female Hong Kong resident who returned from Manila on December 22.

Hong Kong has four confirmed cases of the new COVID-19 strain. Two cases from London, one from France, and the one from Manila. AAC

COVID-19 cases sa NCR, bumababa na pero hawaan sa mga probinsiya, tumataas – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   January 21, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Bumababa na ang kaso ng COVID-19 cases sa National Capital Region (NCR), batay sa obserbasyon ng Department of Health (DOH).

Ayon kay DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, kapansin-pansin ang bumabagal na ngayong hawaan ng COVID-19 sa NCR kahit may umiiral na transmission o hawaan ng Omicron variant, kumpara sa nakalipas na linggo.

“Base naman sa obserbasyon na ito, atin namang sinasabi na, oo bumabagal po ang pagtaas ng mga kaso, mayroon po tayong nakikita na parang nagpa-plateau dito sa National Capital Region,” ani Vergeire.

“But we do not look only sa number of cases kapag tayo ay nag-aanalisa ng ating sitwasyon. Tinitignan pa po natin ang ibang mga metrics na gingamit gaya ng positivity rate,” dagdag pa niya.

Ayon sa DOH, nakatulong ang mataas na vaccination coverage sa NCR kaya naman kahit tumaas ang kaso ay hindi ganoon kadami ang na-ospital at nakaranas ng severe infection.

Ngunit sa labas ng NCR, napansin rin ng DOH na tumataas naman ang kaso ng COVID-19 sa mga lalawigan, dahilan upang ilagay sa COVID-19 Alert Level 4 ang ilang lugar.

Kabilang sa mga lugar na nasa ilalim ng Alert Level 4 hanggang Enero 31 ay ang Kalinga, Ifugao, Mountain Province, at Northern Samar.

Sa ilalim ng Alert Level 4, hanggang 10% indoor capacity lang ang papayagan sa operasyon ng mga establisiymento para sa fully vaccinated individual habang 30% naman ang outdoor capacity.

Bawal namang mag-operate ang amusement parks, casinos, mga sinehan, pati na ang pagsasagawa ng contact sports at face-to-face classes.

“Bagamat mataas na po talaga ang kanilang mga kaso ang kanilang healthcare utilization ay pumalo na po more than 70%. Now there are areas in the country na pumalo na rin po sa more than 70% ang kanilang healthcare utilization pero hindi po natin inescalate so bakit po? Dahil tinitihgnan din po natin kung magkano po ba or how much they have allocated for their ICUs and wards,” ang paliwanag ni Vergeire.

“Nakikita po natin na medyo nahihirapan na po ang mga lugar na ito that’s why the decision to escalate them compared to other areas,” dagdag pa niya.

Ganito rin ang obserbasyon ng OCTA Research group sa sitwasyon ng COVID-19 sa bansa.

Ayon kay OCTA Research fellow Guido David, inaasahang sa pagpasok ng Pebrero ay mas mababa pa ang maitatalang kaso ng COVID-19 kada araw sa NCR,

“Even by the end of the month we are projecting just a little over 2000 cases per day in the NCR it peaked at around 18,000,” ani David.

“By Valentine’s Day, it could be at less than 1,000 cases and by the end of February it could be at around less than 500 cases. Again these are very rough projections we hope that it could guide our friends in the business sector and in the government,” dagdag pa niya.

Sa obserbasyon ng OCTA, ang pagbaba ng kaso sa NCR ay gaya ng pattern na naobserbahan sa South Africa pagkatapos ng mabilis na pagkalat ng Omicron variant.

Pero babala ng grupo, hindi dapat maging kampante ang publiko dahil tumataas pa rin ang kaso ng COVID-19 sa ibang lugar gaya sa Central Luzon, CALABARZON at sa Cebu City.

Dapat rin umanong panatilihin muna ang alert level sa NCR dahil mahigit pa sa 1 ang reproduction number ng rehiyon at hindi pa rin naman napuputol ang hawaan ng Omicron at Delta variant.

“Downgrading to alert level at this time might not be advisable until the NCR reaches the moderate risk just to sustain the rapid decrease that we’re seeing so that we could see those good numbers later in the moths of February,” ani David.

“Last year we almost reach a baseline of about less than 100 cases per day in the NCR,” dagdag pa niya.

Samantala, muli namang nagpaalala ang mga otoridad sa publiko na sumunod sa health protocols at magpabakuna o booster upang magkaroon ng proteksyon laban sa COVID-19.

 

NCR pharmacies, clinics to offer AstraZeneca, Sinovac boosters – DOH Exec

Robie de Guzman   •   January 20, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Drugstores and clinics participating in the government’s “Resbakuna sa Botika” program will initially offer COVID-19 vaccine booster brands made by Sinovac and AstraZeneca, an official from the Department of Health (DOH) said Thursday.

In a public briefing, Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said these vaccine boosters will be offered during the program’s pilot implementation as these do not require special storage.

“Initially, ang ibibigay natin ay Sinovac at saka AstraZeneca. Kasi dapat maging gamay ng ating mga pharmacies, iyong magbabakuna iyong mga bakuna,” said Cabotaje, who also chairs the National Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC).

“Kaya inumpisahan muna natin ng Sinovac at saka AstraZeneca, kasi puwede sa regular refrigerator iyong tinatawag nating domestic,” she added.

Cabotaje said other vaccine brands like Pfizer and Moderna that require sensitive handling may be deployed after the pilot run.

“And then, after the phase 1 or the phase 2, tingnan natin kung puwede nang bigyan ng ibang bakuna, kasi iyong Pfizer at saka iyong Moderna, kaunting sensitive handling,” she said.

Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine can be stored at -80 degrees Celsius, -20 degrees Celsius, and 2 to 8 degrees Celsius. Moderna vaccine may be stored in a freezer set at -50 and -15 degrees Celsius.

The government rolled out its “Resbakuna sa Botika” program on Thursday in select pharmacies and clinics in the capital region as part of efforts to ramp up the vaccination campaign in the country.

Cabotaje said the program will be expanded to areas outside Metro Manila by February.

“After the first rollout, after one week and evaluation, NCR-wide muna tayo and then after NCR-wide, siguro by second week or third week of February, puwede nating umpisahan sa iba’t ibang panig ng ating bansa, based on the readiness assessment of our regional offices. Kung sino ang willing at ready,” she said.

The government said the program aims to assist local government units and the Department of Health with additional personnel for vaccination. It will also help decentralize the inoculation by having smaller but widely spread vaccination sites in the form of drugstores.

Pagpapababa sa presyo ng RT-PCR test pinag-aaralan ng DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   January 14, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Pinag-aaralan na ng Department of Health (DOH) kung maaaring mapababa ang presyo ng RT-PCR o swab test sa gitna ng lumulobong kaso ng COVID-19 sa bansa.

Ang hakbang ay kasunod na rin ng reklamo sa mataas na presyo ng test at dami ng mga nagpapasuri.

Ayon kay DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III, inaalam na nila ang paraan kung paano mapapamura ang presyo ng swab test upang hindi gaanong mabigatan ang bulsa ng mga Pilipino.

Noong Setyembre 2021, sinabi ng DOH na dapat ay naglalaro lang sa P2,000 hanggang P3,000 ang presyo ng RT-PCR test sa mga pampubliko at pribadong laboratoryo.

Mula ito sa dating presyo na P3,000 hanggang P5,000.

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