PCG in S. Mindanao orders intensified patrols vs. illegal entry of travelers from Indonesia

Marje Pelayo   •   July 22, 2021   •   419

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in Southern Mindanao recently ordered its station, sub-stations, floating assets, and operational control (OPCON) units to carry out intensified monitoring and regular border patrols in the region to prevent illegal entry of people from Indonesia.

The directive comes after reports of surge in Delta variant cases wreaking havoc in the said Asian country.

Indonesia was recently included by the national government in the list of countries with travel restrictions.

It shares borders with the Philippines in Southern Mindanao and its proximity poses a huge risk of virus importation.

In view of this, PCG Commandant Admiral George Ursabia Jr. directed all Coast Guard districts and units nationwide to step up monitoring of all vessels with crew or passengers who may be carriers of the COVID-19 Delta variant, most especially borders near Indonesia and Malaysia in the Southern part of the Philippines.

Meanwhile, Captain Rejard Marfe, the acting commander of PCG District Southern Mindanao, also ordered all PCG units in the region to ensure that measures are in place, in coordination with local government units and other law enforcement agencies.

PH logs 633 additional cases of Delta COVID-19 variant

Robie de Guzman   •   October 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday said that 633 more cases of Delta COVID-19 variant have been detected in the Philippines.

In a virtual press briefing, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the latest figure was detected in the 748 samples recently sequenced.

Of the total sequenced samples, three Alpha variant cases and six Beta variant cases were also found.

With this, the number of Delta variant cases reported in the country has climbed to 4,431; Alpha variant with 2,938 cases, and 3,313 Beta variant cases.

The DOH said that as of October 17, a total of 17,147 samples have been sequenced, of which, 88.46 percent or 15,168 were listed with lineages.

Vergeire said that Delta variant remains as the most common lineage among the samples sequenced and is present in all regions nationwide.

All regions in the country have also reported the presence of either Alpha of Beta, she added.

PCG boosts recruitment to strengthen PH maritime security

Marje Pelayo   •   September 17, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is continuously recruiting to achieve the ideal number of 72,000 personnel in order to fully execute its mandate of protecting the country’s 36,000 kilometer long coastline.

The PCG said there have been sightings of Chinese fishing vessels in the West Philippine Sea.

PCG Commandant VADM Leopoldo Laroya said tensions between PCG personnel and Chinese mariners do occur at times.

“Mayroon pakonti-konti na nilalapitan ng [Philippine] Coast Guard. We also maintain a constant patrol in the area and when challenged, they sometimes challenge our challenge but in the end they leave,” he said.

The PCG was able to increase its force from 7,000 personnel in 2016 to 20,600 coast guards this year.

In 2021 alone, the PCG was able to hire around 4,000 new recruits.

In the next five years, the agency is confident of having around 36,000 personnel.

Aside from border security, the PCG is also focused on assisting all returning overseas Filipinos.

“Marami kaming tao na nagkaka-COVID pero meron din namang kapalit. And all our people are being taken care of,” Laroya assured.

As for seafarers, the Maritime Industry Authority (MIA) through the Commission on Higher Eduction (CHED) is requesting the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to allow face-to-face classes for maritime students.

The agency said the pandemic has prevented the industry from producing new seafarer-graduates for two years in a row.

“Hanggang ngayon hindi allowed yung ODT aboardship. So habang wala pang guidance to allow it, then we will continue not to graduate our Filipino seafarers,” explained MIA Administrator VADM Robert Empedrad.

The official said it is still to the advantage of the Philippines to have sufficient number of seafarers for its local maritime operations. MNP (with Rey Pelayo)

640 more Delta variant cases detected in Phl

Maris Federez   •   September 13, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine health authorities have detected 640 Delta (B.1.617.2) variant cases (85.6%), 28 Beta (B.1.351) variant cases (3.7%), 24 Alpha (B.1.1.7) variant cases (3.2%), and five P.3 variant cases (0.7%) in the latest batch of whole-genome sequencing of 748 samples.

In a press release on Monday, the Department of Health said that 584 of the additional 640 Delta variant cases, were local cases and 52 were returning overseas Filipinos (ROF).  Four cases are currently being verified whether they are local or ROF cases.

Based on the case line list, three cases are still active, 13 cases have died, while 624 cases have been tagged as recovered. Case details are being validated by the regional and local health offices.

The total Delta variant cases are now 2,708, the report said.

Meanwhile, of the additional 24 Alpha variant cases, 23 were local cases and one was a ROF.

Based on the case list, one case died while 23 cases have been tagged as recovered.

The total Alpha variant cases are now 2,448.

On the other hand, the additional 28 Beta variant cases were all local cases. Based on the case list, all have been tagged as recovered.

The total Beta variant cases are now 2,725.

The report further said that five additional P.3 variant cases were all local cases and have been tagged as recovered.

The DOH said these sequenced samples were submitted by 77 laboratories, collecting institutions, and different Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Units (RESU).

Meanwhile, the UP-PGC also announced that starting September 9 they have scaled down their COVID-19 RT-PCR testing services to shift their resources on the detection of COVID-19 variants through whole-genome sequencing.

The shift will lead to an expected increase in the sequencing capacity and detection of COVID-19 variant cases in the country in the succeeding months.

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