PH gov’t to probe Zamboanga fire that damaged vaccines

Robie de Guzman   •   November 2, 2021   •   237

MANILA, Philippines – The national government is launching an investigation into the fire that destroyed a total of 148,678 COVID-19 vaccine doses stored at the Zamboanga del Sur provincial health office, authorities said Tuesday.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said they will look into the possibility of foul play in the incident but will wait for the report from the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).

“We’ll wait for the initial assessment of the Bureau of Fire Protection. If there are any indications of foul play, I will request the NBI Regional Office to step in,” Guevarra said.

Nearly 150,000 doses of various COVID-19 vaccine brands were destroyed in a fire that ravaged the Provincial Health Office of Zamboanga del Sur on Sunday.

Among those lost in the fire were 88,938 doses of Pfizer vaccine, 36,164 Sinovac jabs, 14,400 Moderna, and 9,176 shots of AstraZeneca. Routine immunization vaccines allocated for the province were also destroyed in the fire.

Initial report from the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) stated that the fire broke out in the maintenance area at the ground floor. The fire then spread to the third and fourth floors of the three-story building.

The building, which served as the cold chain storage for COVID-19 vaccines for 26 municipalities and one component city in Zamboanga del Sur, was also occupied by various local government departments.

National Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC) chairperson and Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje, for her part, said the DOH and the Department of the Interior and Local Government will conduct separate probe into the incident.

She added that the probe will also look into the possibility of the provincial government’s failure to deliver the vaccines three days after the receipt as indicated in a memorandum order.

“Well it is beyond us kasi ‘yong force of nature ‘yan, iyong fire. But we will have to look bakit napakarami noong bakuna nila bakit hindi nai-move? So, we will look into that, then see who are accountable,” Cabotaje said.

“May DILG memo na kailangan i-move ang mga bakuna three days after they have received them so we will also look at that,” she added.

Cabotaje said authorities are now trying to retrieve vaccine carriers and other equipment that were not damaged by the fire.

She also assured that ruined vaccine stocks will be replenished, especially for those who are set to receive their second dose in the province.

“Mayroon silang mga buffer stock sa region ibibigay nila ‘yan sa ating mga areas diretso na ‘yan sa mga bakuna center para mabakuna ‘yong 2nd dose,” she said.

“We are looking at paano i-stock ‘yong ating mga cold chain equipment, kung may mga additional ref na mai-reposition, additional freezers,” she added.

Umano’y phishing scam sa LandBank accounts ng ilang guro, pinaiimbestigahan ng DOJ

Robie de Guzman   •   January 25, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Tiniyak ng Department of Justice (DOJ) na iniimbestigahan na ng National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) ang napaulat na phishing scheme sa account ng ilang guro sa Land Bank of the Philippines (LandBank).

Sa isang pahayag, sinabi ni Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra na kasalukuyan nang nagsasagawa ng malawakang imbestigasyon ang NBI sa kaso ng online fraud sa bansa.

“The NBI is already looking into phishing of bank accounts on a broader scale, but I am minded to issue a separate directive to the NBI in the case of the teacher victims,” ani Guevarra.

Una nang sinabi ng Teachers’ Dignity Coalition na may mga natanggap silang ulat na ilang miyembro nila ang nawalan ng pera sa account dahil sa umano’y hindi otorisadong bank transaction.

Ayon sa pinuno ng grupo na si Benjo Basas, 16 na ang natatanggap nilang ulat na nawalan ng pera sa kanilang payroll account matapos umano itong ilipat mula sa kanilang LandBank account papunta sa ibang bangko.

“So far, 16 na po ito, ang common denominator lahat sila ay nawalan ng pera na batay doon sa paggamt ng kanilang online banking apps o system nung LandBank,” ani Basas.

“Ang simula ay ganun lamang po ang pinakamataas lamang po P121,000 from P26,000 ngayon meron ding mas mababa pa, mayroong mga nag-report sa atin na P10,000. Inaayos na po natin ito, nagkaroon na po tayo ng pakikipag-ugnayan sa Department of Education,” dagdag pa niya.

Isa sa mga nawalan ng pera sa LandBank account ay si Crisanto Cruz, isang guro sa Cavite. Aniya, noong Disyembre 30 siya nakatanggap ng notification ukol sa OTP o one-time password sa kanyang cellphone.

“Napansin ko may message, nung tiningnan ko message sa LandBank yung tinatawag nating OTP, one time password, itong OTP pinapadala lang kung mayroon kang online bank system (transaction),” ani Cruz.

“Kinabahan ako kase nakapatay ang computer ko. Ang ginawa ko, meron akong pwedeng mag-check ng balance sa’king cellphone, yun wala na, ubos na yung laman,” dagdag pa niya.

Aniya, P84,000 ang nawala mula sa kanyang account matapos magkaroon ng dalawang hindi otorisadong transaksyon.

Sa isang pahayag, sinabi ng pamunuan ng LandBank na walang nangyaring hacking sa sistema nito at ang napaulat na unauthorized transactions sa ilang account holders nito ay bunsod umano ng phishing scam.

Tiniyak ng bangko na nakikipag-ugnayan na ito sa mga apektadong kliyente.

“The Lank Bank of the Philippines clarifies that it’s systems were not hacked and remain secure, following reports that alleged unauthorized transactions were experienced by two teachers who maintain payroll accounts with LandBank,” ang pahayag nito.

“According to the initial investigation by Landbank, the devices of the teachers were hacked via phishing which compromised their personal information,” dagdag pa nito.

Muli rin itong nagpaalala sa publiko na maging alerto laban sa phishing scam at iba pang uri ng panloloko gamit ang internet. Iwasan ring buksan ang anumang kaduda-dudang link at e-mail na matatanggap, at huwag i-share ang kanilang account at personal information online.

Payo rin ng bangko na agad makipag-ugnayan sa pinakamalapit na branch o kaya ay tumawag sa Landbank customer care hotlines na (02) 8-405-7000 at 1-800-10-405-7000 sakaling makaranas ng hindi otorisadong transaksyon sa kanilang bank account.

Samantala, tiniyak naman ng Department of Education na binubusisi na rin nito ang isyu at nakikipag-ugnayan na sa mga kinauukulan.

NCR reaches peak of COVID-19 cases — DOH, OCTA

Maris Federez   •   January 24, 2022

 

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) and the OCTA Research Group are in agreement that the National Capital Region (NCR) has reached the peak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases.

The two agencies said the number of COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila is now expected to go down come February.

DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said this development is brought about by the consecutive days wherein the 7-day average growth rate in the NCR has been seen to go down.

“Lumalabas nag-peak na at nakikita natin ilang araw nang sunod sunod na bumababa ang kaso ng NCR at lumiliit ang porsyentong iniaambag nito sa ating total case load,” Duque said.

Meanwhile, the latest projection of the OCTA Research Group showed that the growth rate of the virus in Metro Manila has decreased to -50 and the production rate has slowed down to 1.03.

OCTA said they expect the COVID-19 cases in the region to go down in the coming weeks.

OCTA fellow Prof. Guido David said that based on their monitoring, Metro Manila has reached its peak of COVID-19 cases on January 10, wherein the number of positive cases in the region breached the 18,000 mark.

“Simula January 14, masasabi natin na patuloy nang bumababa yung bilang ng kaso hanggang sa ngayon. Kahapon nga 5,000 na lang. So malaki na ang ibinaba from 18,000 down to 5,400. Ang laking improvement,” David said.

“At kaya nga yung projection natin hopefully patuloy na yan hanggang Valentines, baka less than 1,000. Baka end of February baka less than 500 na lang. At mababalik na natin yung kalagayan natin tulad nung nakita natin nung November and December sa buong bansa. Pero sa Metro Manila pa lang yan,” he added.

Based on their study, OCTA said that COVID-19 cases in the NCR will go down to as low as 1,000 by February.

This data, the group said, may be used by the government in determining whether to place the region under a more relaxed alert level restriction.

However, Duque said that this development is not yet a parameter to come up with the decision to ease the alert status in the NCR to Alert Level 2.

This, he said, still calls for the review and consideration by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

“Pero paguusapan pa rin yan mamaya sa IATF or rather on Thursday. Baka kailangan na kailangan ay tingnan na rin kung talagang malinaw na ang health care utilization ay nagkaroon na ng pagbabaklas o decoupling. Kumbaga tumaas ang kaso okay pa yung mga severe critical nasa baba so may decoupling, kung tawagin. Baka pagusapan yan pwede na at mababa to alert level 2,” Duque explained.

He added that based on the DOH monitoring, the hospital bed and ICU utilization in the NCR is now at low risk.

On the other hand, such is not the case in areas outside the NCR.

Duque said, healthcare utilization rate in several areas of the country are now at high to critical risk which the IATF is closely monitoring.

Meanwhile, OCTA Research also reported that decreasing COVID-19 cases are also recorded in the provinces of Cavite, Rizal and Bulacan. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Aileen Cerrudo)

DOH, wala pang rekomendasyon kung ibababa sa COVID-19 Alert Level 2 ang NCR sa Pebrero

Robie de Guzman   •   January 24, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Masyado pang maaga para masabing maaaring nang ibaba sa COVID-19 Alert Level 2 ang National Capital Region (NCR) sa kabila ng pagbaba ng mga naitatalang kaso kada araw, ayon sa Department of Health (DOH).

Sa pinakahuling ulat ng DOH noong linggo, nasa 29,828 ang mga bagong kaso ng COVID-19 sa bansa. Nasa 30,552 naman noong Sabado.

Ayon kay DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, bumababa na ang kaso ng hawaan sa NCR pero kapansin-pansin naman ang pagtaas ng infection rate sa mga lalawigan.

“I think it’s too early to declare and to say to people that we will shift or de-escalate to Alert Level 2,” ani Vergeire.

“Kahit po sa tingin natin bumabagal na po ang pagdami ng kaso, bumaba na ang numero araw-araw, pero alalahanin po natin na mayroon pa rin po tayong mga kababayan na hindi na po nagpapa-test. Mayroon din tayong mga kababayan na nag-a-antigen test na hindi po naire-report sa DOH,” dagdag pa niya.

Maaari aniyang makita ang peak o pinakamataas na bilang ng COVID-19 cases sa NCR sa bandang kalagitnaan o katapusan pa ng Pebrero.

Ang NCR ay nasa ilalim ng COVID-19 Alert Level 3 hanggang sa Enero 31.

Samantala, sa ulat naman hinggil sa posibilidad ng paglutang ng mas matindi pang COVID-19 variant kasunod ng Omicron, sinabi ng DOH na mataman itong nakabantay sa mga napapaulat na variants sa ibang bansa.

Pero paalala ni Vergeire sa publiko na mainam pa ring panlaban sa anumang variant ang pagsunod sa health protocols gaya ng maayos na pagsusuot ng face mask, physical distancing at pagpapabakuna.

“Pero ang babala naman po ng mga eksperto, and even across the globe na huwag po muna tayong maging complacent because there might be other variants of concern again that might enter our country, different countries that might cause more infections and more transmissions. So tayo po ay closely monitoring,” ani Vergeire.

Payor in ng DOH sa publiko na iwasan muna ang anumang physical gathering lalo na sa Pebrero 1 o Chinese New Year dahil nananatiling mataas ang COVID-19 cases sa bansa. (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

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