Parisians cautious as France looks to wind down confinement on May 11

UNTV News   •   April 29, 2020   •   213

Parisians were cautiously optimistic on Tuesday (April 28) as France is set to reveal its plans to unwind a six-week-old coronavirus lockdown, joining countries from Asia to the Americas looking to take advantage of falling infection rates to rescue their free-falling economies.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe faces a delicate balancing act, keen to relieve the mounting frustration of people holed up in their homes since mid-March without heightening the risk of a second wave of infections if France moves too swiftly.

He will present the measures to parliament at 3 p.m. (1300 GMT), followed by a debate and vote in the early evening, with just 75 of the National Assembly’s 577 lawmakers sitting in the chamber to respect social distancing rules.

The global number of confirmed infections from the world’s worst pandemic in a century rose above 3 million this week. In France, the death toll passed 23,000 on Monday (April 27), the fourth highest behind the United States, Italy and Spain.

President Emmanuel Macron said earlier this month that a gradual loosening of the lockdown would begin on May 11, when schools and retailers would progressively reopen. Restaurants, cafes and cinemas will have to remain shut for longer, he said. (Reuters)

(Production: Clotaire Achi, Yiming Woo)

Hollywood production springs back to life with new COVID-19 measures on set

UNTV News   •   July 14, 2020

Members of Hollywood’s film community are back at work after safety guidelines were approved by the state of California.

One of the first productions, “7th & Union,” began filming after being approved to proceed by the acting union, SAG AFTRA. The filmmakers claim the production is one of only two to get the green light.

“We’re one of the first to go filming here in Los Angeles and it’s been kind of a trial and error,” said the film’s producer Christopher Acebo, adding “SAG AFTRA has been wonderful to work in terms of the process but we’ve had to set up various guidelines and safety based on the guidelines that came out, maybe, two or three weeks ago from the state of California.”

“It’s been a learning process, obviously. We have a situation where we are making a movie and also having to wear masks, also having to stay six feet away from each other, as well as adhere to a variety of safety protocols and temperature checks in the morning and also everybody on set getting tested for COVID,” Acebo said.

The filmmakers deliberately drew up their production schedule to leave extra time for anything unexpected and also kept scenes as simple as possible.

Acebo said, “Part of what we are doing right now is we are doing a lot of the smaller scenes, the scenes that require the least amount of cast members at first and then we’re in open space and open locations so that’s also been really, really helpful in terms of the shape of the film and how we’re able to keep safety and how that shape of the film is working.”

The safety protocols aren’t the only thing that has changed on the set; the new power hierarchy means safety monitors who patrol the set have the final say in ensuring everybody is working to the guidelines.

“Right now our safety monitors have the power to stop our filming. If someone doesn’t feel safe, if someone doesn’t feel that someone else is complying with the rules that have been set up, they can speak with the EMT or the COVID manager and we have to stop and deal with that issue as it comes up, so they kind of do have ultimate authority on the space that we’re occupying right now,” Acebo said.

“7th & Union,” which is an immigrant story about an unlikely friendship, is aiming to wrap production within the next fortnight with the film to be completed by October. (Reuters)

(Production: Sandra Stojanovic/Rollo Ross)

No return to “old normal” for foreseeable future: WHO chief

UNTV News   •   July 14, 2020

There will be no return to the “old normal” for the foreseeable future as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday.

At a press conference held in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned of the grim epidemic situation the world is still facing in the near term, and called for continuing efforts to control the disease and get on with people’s lives.

“There will be no return to the old normal for the foreseeable future, but there is a roadmap to a situation where we can control the disease and get on with our lives. But this is going to require three things. First, a focus on reducing mortality and suppressing transmission. Second, an empowered, engaged community that takes individual behavior measures in the interest of each other. And third, we need strong government leadership and coordination of comprehensive strategies,” said Tedros.

Tedros stressed that no matter where the country is in its epidemic curve, it is never too late to take decisive action.

Speaking at the same press briefing, Michael Ryan, executive director of WHO Health Emergencies Program, said it is unrealistic to expect that the virus will be eliminated, or an effective COVID-19 vaccine will be available to all in the next few months.

The good news is that mortality rates of the disease have dropped in many countries, Ryan added, noting there are also better ways now to give early diagnosis and treatment. (Reuters)

Navotas to undergo 14-day lockdown due to surge in COVID-19 cases

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 13, 2020

Navotas City will be placed under a 14-day lockdown due to the rising cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Navotas City Mayor Toby Tiangco confirmed what has been floating on social media regarding the lockdown, although he added that he is still yet to sign the directive.

Based on the report of City Health officials on Sunday (July 12), there are 931 confirmed cases in the city.

Tiangco lamented that despite the rising cases, residents continue to leave their houses irresponsibly. He also said that several children are playing outside without wearing face masks.

Barangay NBBS Dagat-dagatan has the highest confirmed COVID-19 cases in the city.

Barangay Chairperson Zenaida Tibulan said most of the residents thought there is less danger when community quarantine eased.

Lahat halos lumalabas na noong nagkaroon ng GCQ parang pakiramdam nila natapos na ang problema. Sobra lang mahirap talaga para masasabi nating ma-control ang mga tao at mga bata na lumabas (Almost everyone went outside when GCQ was implemented, they thought the problem is over. It is really difficult to control residents and children not to leave their houses),” she said.

Mayor Tiangco said he is still waiting for the augmentation force he requested from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to begin the implementation of the lockdown in the city. –AAC (with reports from Dante Amento).

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