Malacañang admits shortcomings in not building more laboratories soon enough

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 9, 2020   •   169

Malacañang admitted the government had shortcomings in not building more coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing laboratories to boost the country’s response against the pandemic.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the country only began having more testing laboratories last March, adding that the country should have already boosted its testing capacity when the first COVID-19 case was reported.

Inaamin po natin na medyo naging mabagal ang proseso sa lumipas po na dalawang buwan (We admit the process has been slow in the past two months),” he said.

“If I were to look back, what could have we done better? Siguro po noong nagkaroon tayo ng unang kaso imported case ng COVID, dapat pinalawak na natin ang testing capacity natin agad (When we had the first imported case of COVID-19, we could have already boosted our testing capacity), Roque added.

The country only had one COVID-19 laboratory in January. As of July 7, licensed RT-PCR laboratories across the country have reached 78. The Palace official said the government is improving its COVID-19 testing, treatment, and contact tracing to better the response against the virus.

The Duterte Administration also called on the public, local government, and business establishments to be more responsible in following minimum health standards including social distancing, wearing face masks, and hand washing.

Roque also announced the government will further boost its targeted testing.

Bukod po sa 10 million na naorder natin at 1 million na na-deliver na PCR testing, magkakaroon ng mas malawak na targeted testing na iaanunsyo po natin sa mga darating na panahon (Aside from the 10 million we ordered and the 1 million PCR testing that has been delivered, there will be wider targeted testing which we will announce soon), he said. –AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

FDA approves Chinese drug Lian Hua Qing Wen for mild COVID-19

Maris Federez   •   August 13, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a traditional Chinese drug for the treatment of mild coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

According to the Certificate of Product Registration released by the FDA, Lian Hua Qing Wen “has been found to conform with the requirements and standards for marketing authorization for pharmaceutical products per existing regulations in force as of date hereof.”

Lian Hua Qing Wen, produced by traditional Chinese medicine manufacturer Shijiazhuang Yiling Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., was approved for use in the Philippines last Friday (August 7).

In a statement, the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines said the approval was a welcome development for them as “this marks an important progress in the entry of TCM products into the Philippine market.”

The statement added that the said medicine is an approved COVID-19 treatment for mild and moderate cases in China.

The embassy added that the drug has also been approved in Hong Kong, Macau, Brazil, Indonesia, Canada, Mozambique, Romania, Thailand, Ecuador, Singapore, and Laos.

“It is our sincere hope that its entrance into the Philippine market will contribute to the fight against the spread of COVID-19 in this country and help the patients with mild and moderate symptoms recover,” it added.

The embassy, however, advised consumers to purchase and consume authentic traditional Chinese medicine only.

The Embassy also hopes that “TCM would play a bigger role to support the efforts of the Philippine government and its people to fight against COVID-19 until the final victory.” — /mbmf

Immigration personnel with COVID-19 reach 46, says BI chief

Robie de Guzman   •   August 12, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Wednesday reported that 46 of its employees have tested positive for novel coronavirus disease.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said that of the 46 personnel infected with the virus, nine have already recovered while 37 are still housed in government-accredited quarantine facilities.

Half of those who contracted the virus are currently assigned at the BI main office in Intramuros, Manila while the rest are stationed in other places such as the international airports in Pasay and Cebu, and the bureau’s satellite and extension offices in Metro Manila, and elsewhere nationwide, he added.

“The good news is that, so far, none of our employees have succumbed to the virus,” Morente said in a statement.

He also said that only one of the bureau’s employees with confirmed COVID-19 infection is presently confined and recovering in a hospital.

The BI Chief also said that the bureau had 93 suspected COVID-19 cases among its workers but half of them were already cleared of the virus after undergoing home quarantine.

Morente said the public should not be surprised that some BI employees were infected by the virus.

“We are one of the few government agencies whose personnel render frontline services, not only in our offices, but in the ports of entry as well. It is unavoidable that some of our employees do come in contact or are exposed to persons who are carriers of this virus,” he said.

The bureau earlier announced that it scaled down operations as Metro Manila and other areas reverted to modified enhanced community quarantine.

However, it assured that its online appointment system remains open to foreigners who are scheduled to leave the country during the community quarantine period.

Business owners in Manila reminded to sell face shields at a fair price

Robie de Guzman   •   August 12, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Manila City government has reminded business owners in the city not to take advantage of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic by selling essential goods and other products at higher prices.

The city’s bureau of permits issued the reminder on Tuesday following reports that some business owners are selling face shields at P100 a piece.

“I don’t think this is the time to take advantage of our public,” Manila’s Bureau of Permits Director Levi Facundo said in a statement.

“Nasa panahon po tayo ng pandemya, maraming nahihirapan. Alam kong apektado rin ang negosyo, pero apektado rin ang mamimili natin dahil sila’y nawalan rin ng trabaho, ng hanap-buhay,” he added.

While the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has not yet released an official suggested retail price (SRP) for face shields, Facundo said that its price should not go beyond P25.

He assured that once an official SRP has been set for face shields, the local government will strictly monitor the pricing of all businesses in the nation’s capital and warned to go after businesses that will be selling the item above its price cap.

He also advised consumers to take extra precaution in buying medical equipment online as they may be scammed.

“If you feel na ang isang nagbebenta ay hindi legit o kaya hindi nag-o-overprice, let us know. We will coordinate with DTI, we will send them show cause order, and pagpapaliwanagin natin,” Facundo said.

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