PH Gov’t urged to take precautionary measures vs threat of new coronavirus strain
Robie de Guzman • January 22, 2020 • 896
MANILA, Philippines – Several lawmakers on Wednesday urged the Philippine government to take precautionary measures and prepare emergency response plans amid the threat of a new strain of coronavirus from China.
In a statement, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian called on the Department of Education (DepEd) to put schools on alert and ensure that preventive steps are in place to protect students from the respiratory disease that has already infected 222 individuals across neighboring countries of China, Japan, South Korea, and Thailand.
“Sa ating pangambang makapasok itong bagong coronavirus sa ating bansa, mabuti nang maging sigurado tayo dahil ang isang kumpirmadong kaso ay maaaring maikalat sa iba,” Gatchalian said.
He made the appeal after the Department of Health (DOH) reported Tuesday it is closely monitoring a child who may have contracted novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) prior to entering the Philippines from Wuhan, China.
The DOH said the child manifested symptoms such as cough, throat irritation, and fever. He is currently stable but still has a cough.
Based on samples examined by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), the unnamed child tested negative for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Both diseases are caused by a family of viruses called coronavirus.
But he tested positive for a non-specific pancoronavirus assay, meaning he is infected with a strain of coronavirus. The sample has been sent to a laboratory in Australia for further testing.
The new strain of coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan City on December 31, 2019.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said novel coronavirus causes respiratory infections which may develop into severe cases such as pneumonia, acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and death if left untreated.
Coronavirus, which is a large group of viruses common among animals, may be transmitted to humans through contact with an infected person or animal.
Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate committee on basic education, arts, and culture also said that schools should have protocols in identifying students displaying flu-like symptoms and emphasize the practice of good hygiene, such as frequent hand-washing, to avoid any diseases.
Senator Nancy Binay, meanwhile, called on the DOH and other government agencies to prepare for an emergency response plan in dealing with the respiratory illness from China.
Binay said she filed Senate Resolution 293 which aims to determine appropriate measures and necessary funding requirements to ensure quick government response to address possible outbreaks.
“Preemptive measures will always the better option. Kailangan natin paghandaan na dahil actionable ang impormasyong hawak ng DOH. We must act immediately to monitor reports of the disease or sightings, and abate the possibility of an outbreak,” she said in a statement.
“Mabuting maging handa, hindi lamang ang DOH at ang pambansang pamahalaan, kundi pati na rin ang mga local na pamahalaan hanggang sa lebel ng barangay,” she added.
The DOH earlier advised the public to always practice frequent handwashing, avoid crowded places and contact with an infected person, and to thoroughly cook food, especially those containing meat and dairy products.
The solidarity trial of the World Health Organization (WHO) for potential vaccines against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Philippines and other countries will begin in December.
Department of Health (DOH) Spokesperson Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire said 150 to 200 will participate in the trial in 12 sites in the country.
“Sa November kasi parang maguumpisa sa isang site and mag-follow na po iyong iba’t ibang clinical trials in the other countries including the Philippines by December of 2020 (The trial will begin in November in one site and it will be followed by other clinical trials in other countries including the Philippines by December of 2020),“ she said.
The Health Department also announced Interferon will no longer be a part of WHO’s solidarity trial. Vergeire reported the said drug did not reduce the mortality rate of COVID-19 patients.
“Iyong gamot hindi na-reach objective (The medicine did not reachits objective),” she said.
The WHO has previously discontinued the use of hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir treatment after seeing no signs of effectiveness in treating COVID-19 patients.
Meanwhile, the WHO added two drugs for the therapeutics solidarity trial, which include Acalabrutinib that is used for the chemotherapeutic regimen of patients. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)
The local government units (LGU) remain as the authority for announcing suspension of classes during calamities, according to the Department of Education (DepEd).
DepEd Undersecretary Jess Mateo said the department did not release any guidelines in class suspension amid the distance learning under the new normal setting.
“Ang magdedeklara ng walang pasok ay ang mga local government units, (The local government units will declare class suspension),” he said.
DepEd also said classes will not be heavily affected since most classes are using modules and not online. Teachers can also extend deadlines for assignments and other school projects.
“Ang mga guro natin nagbibigay naman ng konsiderasyon kasi alam nila ang estado ng kanilang mga mag-aaral, (Teachers will provide consideration because they know they situation of the students),” Mateo said. AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Nancy Binay has called on the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA) to review its existing policies which allow retirees as young as 35 years old to stay in the country.
In a statement, Binay said the PRA should revisit its policies, do a background check and implement a stricter vetting process “to lessen the probability of foreign nationals exploiting the special resident retiree visas (SRRV).”
“It’s high time to review the policy na 35 years old ka lang ay pwede ka na mag-retire dito sa Pilipinas kasi ang kailangan lang po ng magre-retire ay either mag-deposit siya ng US$50,000 sa bangko, or bumili ng condo unit worth P2.5 million at pwede nang mag-retire dito,” she said.
Binay issued the call after some senators expressed alarm upon learning in a Senate hearing that foreigners aged 35 years old and above are eligible for the SRRV.
It was also revealed during the hearing that Chinese nationals are among the top foreign retirees in the country.
Binay also hit the “seemingly relaxed national security policy” on allowing Chinese nationals who are 35 years old, which she says falls in the bracket of the so-called “soldier’s age.”
“Siguro dapat dagdagan din ang security measure at baka dapat higpitan ang vetting process ng mga tatanggapin natin regardless of nationality,” she said.
She also said that she finds the PRA’s age limit concerning and noted how foreigners can exploit this to work in the country without going through the proper channels.
“Alam naman natin at 35 years old malakas pa po ang katawan niyan. Lalong-lalo po mayroon tayong problema ngayon na kung saan may issue tayo na apparently ang mga kababayan natin ay nagkakaroon ng job displacement pagdating dito sa pagpasok ng mga Chinese nationals sa ating bansa,” she said.
“Pwede (ang mga yan ay) nagtatrabaho sa POGO, or pwede rin po baka nandiyan sila sa Divisoria. Kaya nga po magandang tingnan at pag-aralan kasi baka kumbaga ginagamit nila itong paraan to circumvent the law na hindi sila puwedeng mag-trabaho dito,” she added
Data from the PRA showed there are a total of 70,520 foreign retirees in the Philippines. Of this number, Chinese nationals comprise the highest number of foreign retirees or about 40%.
This is followed by Korean retirees at around 14,000, and Indian nationals at about 6,000.
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