PH eyeing to launch SG-based contact tracing app amid COVID- 19 worries

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 6, 2020   •   673

The Philippines is eyeing to launch a Singapore-based contact tracing app to help the government in containing the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said they are coordinating with the Department of Health (DOH) and other government agencies to look into Singapore-based app ‘TraceTogether’.

DICT Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan wrote a letter to Singaporean Ambassador Gerard Ho Wei Hong requesting more details about the app and that the ICT-enabled tools could assist in addressing the COVID-19 situation in the Philippines.

“In response, Ambassador Ho Wei Hong said Singapore is willing to provide technical assistance to DICT regarding the matter,” the DICT said.

According to the DICT, TraceTogether is a community-driven contact tracing app which works by exchanging short-distance Bluetooth signals between phones to detect other app users who are within about two to five-meter proximity. The app was launched last March 20.

“If one app user tested positive for Covid-19, authorities will be able to identify other app users who were in close contact with the patient,” the DICT said. AAC

Oxford COVID-19 vaccine ‘highly effective’ based on trial

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 24, 2020

The COVID-19 vaccine, developed by Oxford University and manufactured by pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, is reported to be highly effective based on the late-stage trials.

Over 20,000 volunteers participated in the trials in Brazil and the United Kingdom (UK).

Based on the trial, the vaccine can provide an average efficacy of 70% protection against the virus.

Researchers also said its protection rate can scale up to 90% efficacy rate when given as a half dose, followed by a full dose at least one month apart.

They also considered the results a success, even though the vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna are reported to be 95 per cent and 94.5 percent effective respectively.

However, researchers said the vaccine developed by Oxford is more affordable and easier to ship across countries.

The UK government already pre-ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine. AstraZeneca said they will manufacture three billion doses by next year. AAC (with reports from Jovic Bermas)

107-year-old College of Holy Spirit Manila to cease ops in 2022

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — After facing the challenges brought by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the 107-year-old College of the Holy Spirit Manila (CHSM) announced that it will cease its operations in 2022.

In a letter, Sr. Carmelita Victoria of the Mission Congregation of the Servants of the Holy Spirit said the school has faced challenges in increasing the number of enrollees in the past 10 years.

“We are now even more convinced that the Holy Spirit is speaking clearly to us through the signs of the times, compelling us to make this extremely difficult decision: to close CHSM at the end of academic year (AY) 2021-2022,” the letter reads.

Victoria said the significant increase in public school teachers’ salaries compared to their private school counterparts has also made it difficult for the school to cope.

“Private education has faced an increasingly challenging environment resulting from government policies on K-12; free tuition in state colleges and universities, local universities and college, and state-run technical and vocational institutions,” according to the letter.

She also said that the COVID-19 pandemic worsened the situation for the school.

“The reduction or loss in family income, mobility restrictions and social distancing requirements, and the new demands of distance learning have adversely affected enrollment, not only in CHSM, but in most private schools,” she added.

CSHM assured there will be a proper transition for the students currently enrolled. AAC

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Makatizens may now avail of cheaper RT-PCR tests at P2,950

Marje Pelayo   •   November 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Mayor Abigail Binay has announced that residents of Makati City can now avail of polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests for P2,950.

In My Makati Facebook post, Binay reported that the price of the RT-PCR test in the city is much lower than those offered in hospitals and private clinics around Metro Manila which usually costs around P4,500 to P8,000.

The city government made it more affordable, allowing asymptomatic individuals and those having no close contact with positive patients to be tested as well.

The said move is part of the city government’s mass testing efforts to break the chains of transmission while waiting for the vaccine for coronavirus disease (COVID-19). MNP / Rhussel Egano

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