Philippines adds France to COVID-19 ‘red list’

Robie de Guzman   •   December 9, 2021   •   952

MANILA, Philippines – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) on Wednesday placed France on the Philippines’ red list or countries that are high risk for COVID-19, Malacañang said.

In a statement, acting Presidential Spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the escalation of France to the Red list is effective 12:01 a.m. of December 10 to 15.

Travelers who have been to France within 14 days immediately preceding arrival in the Philippines, and who will arrive on December 10 to 12, shall be required to undergo facility-based quarantine for 14 days with an RT-PCR test on the 7th day, with day one being the date of arrival.

“Notwithstanding a negative RT-PCR result, the completion of the 14-day quarantine is required,” Nograles said.

Beginning 12:01 a.m. of December 13 until December 15, entry in any port of the Philippines shall not be allowed for passengers coming from or who have been to France within the last 14 days prior to arrival in the Philippines, regardless of vaccination status.

Only Filipinos returning to the country via government-initiated or non-government-initiated repatriation, and Bayanihan Flights may be allowed entry, subject to existing testing and quarantine protocols for Red List countries/territories/jurisdictions.

“As with all international inbound travel, the testing and quarantine protocols for minors shall follow the testing and quarantine protocols of the parent/guardian traveling with them, regardless of the minor’s vaccination status,” Nograles said.

“This notwithstanding, children 3 years old and below, regardless of country of origin, shall be exempt from the requirement of presenting a negative RT-PCR test result before boarding the flight, unless symptomatic,” he added.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Palace official said that passengers who arrived prior to December 10, 2021 and are currently undergoing quarantine shall complete the testing and quarantine protocols in effect at the time of their arrival.

All passengers, whether Filipinos or foreigners, merely transiting through France shall not be deemed as having come from or having been to said country if they stayed in the airport the whole time and were not cleared for entry into such country by its immigration authorities.

Upon arrival in the Philippines, they shall comply with the applicable testing and quarantine protocols for passengers who have not been to any Red List country/territory/jurisdiction.

The updated Red List comes amid the looming threat of newly discovered Omicron COVID-19 variant.

PH gov’t to tap drug stores as COVID-19 vaccine booster sites

Robie de Guzman   •   January 18, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government is looking to tap drug stores to serve as COVID-19 vaccine booster sites in a bid to ramp up the administration of booster jabs in the country.

During President Rodrigo Duterte’s meeting with some of his officials on Monday, Presidential Adviser for COVID-19 response Vince Dizon said the government will seek the help of pharmacies in the country following reports that some vaccination staff have also contracted the virus.

Dizon said the program, which would be dubbed “Resbakuna sa mga botika,” will be launched this week in the first seven pharmacies in Metro Manila.

The pilot run is set for January 20 to 21 in sites including Mercury Drug, Watsons, Rose Pharmacy, Southstar Drug, and the Generics Pharmacy, as well as Healthway and QualiMed.

After the weeklong run, it would then be expanded to other drugstores across the country, he added.

“We will start with 7 pharmacies in Metro Manila which we will launch on Thursday, January 20 and on Friday, January 21,” Dizon said.

“Mabilis po ito Mr. President, pagka-launch po natin, magpi-pilot po sila ng isang linggo, mag-eexpand na po tayo nang mabilis sa iba’t iba pang cities all over the country- Luzon, Visayas, at Mindanao- at sa iba’t ibang mga botika,” he added.

The program aims to assist local government units and the Department of Health with additional personnel for vaccination. It will also help decentralize the inoculation by having smaller but widely spread vaccination sites in the form of drugstores.

 

Philippines posts 28,471 new COVID-19 cases

Robie de Guzman   •   January 18, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines on Tuesday logged 28,471 more COVID-19 cases, the Department of Health (DOH) said.

This is the first time in a week that the number of new COVID-19 infections fell below 30,000.

In its data, the DOH said that 27,735 of the newly reported cases occurred within the recent 14 days. Most infections were reported in Metro Manila, Calabarzon, and Central Luzon.

The latest figure pushed the country’s number of active cases to 284,458 – 8,930 of which are asymptomatic, 270,784 are mild, 2,957 are moderate, 1,484 are severe, and 303 are in critical condition.

The positivity rate was at 43.4 percent, based on samples of 51,738 individuals on January 16.

Five laboratories failed to submit their data on time. These facilities contribute on average 1.7 percent of samples tested and 2.1 percent of positive cases.

Recoveries increased by 34,892, resulting in 2,933,338 total recuperations.

COVID-related deaths rose to 52,962 with 34 new fatalities.

The utilization rate of intensive care unit beds nationwide was at 49 percent, and 53 percent in Metro Manila; isolation beds in the capital region at 48 percent, and 49 percent across the country.

In Metro Manila, 29 percent of ventilators are in use, and  22 percent nationwide.

 

PH gov’t to ramp up administration of COVID vaccine booster jabs to 500K a day – Galvez

Robie de Guzman   •   January 18, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government will increase the number of COVID-19 vaccine booster shots being administered in the country to 500,000 daily, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said.

In his report to President Rodrigo Duterte during a meeting with officials on Monday, Galvez said more than 4.7 million Filipinos have taken their COVID-19 vaccine booster shots. The daily average is 267,900 shots.

“Ito po sa ating analysis ay mababa dahil halos sabay po natin inilunsad ang pagbabakuna ng mga bata, ang mga bata po ngayon ay mahigit na 8 million,” he said.

“Ang average po natin naitala ay mahigit na 260,000 po lamang. Kinakailangan po na maiangat sa doblado or 500,000 doses kada araw,” he added.

Galvez said the country needs to ramp up its booster output in order to achieve its target of boosting more than 70 million Filipinos against COVID-19.

To increase the output, the official said concerned agencies have drafted strategies including the expansion of vaccination sites for boosters using pharmacies and private clinics.

“Concentrate po tayo sa NCR+ 10 at sa mga area na may more than 70 percent fully vaccinated para mapanatili na mataas at tuloy-tuloy na proteksiyon,” Galvez said.

“I-expand po natin ang vaccination sites for boostering using big pharmacies and private sector clinics for the A4 population… At mag-dedicate po tayo ng mega vaccination site like Nayong Pilipino at mga malls for boosters administration,” he added.

The Philippine government is eyeing to fully vaccinate up to 77 million Filipinos in the first quarter of this year and 90 million Filipinos by the second quarter.

To date, more than 55 million individuals have been fully vaccinated since the Philippines rolled out its immunization campaign in March 2020.

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