PHL attains ‘substantial population immunity’, OCTA Research fellow says

Robie de Guzman   •   December 7, 2021   •   170

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines may have already attained “substantial population immunity” to COVID-19 amid decreasing number of coronavirus infections recorded in the past few weeks, an OCTA Research fellow said.

In his report to President Rodrigo Duterte during the pre-taped public address aired late Monday, OCTA Research fellow Nicanor Austriaco said the country had the highest mobility levels in the past 20 months and experienced the lowest levels of cases and hospitalizations during the same period even with the presence of the COVID-19 Delta variant.

Delta is said to be the most contagious variant of COVID-19.

“And so what these three mean together is that it suggests that we have attained substantial population immunity from natural infections and vaccinations in the urban areas of the Philippines because the pandemic has raged and spread primarily in our cities and in our first class municipalities,” Austriaco said.

“And so the fact that the virus is struggling to find new Filipinos to infect, suggests that we have attained substantial population immunity,” he added.

Comparing the Philippines with its three neighbors in Southeast Asia, Thailand and Malaysia still haven’t seen dip in cases despite having much earlier surges and the two nations are still experiencing 5,000 cases per day.

Vietnam, he said, also had a Delta peak. Unfortunately, Delta has resurged and Vietnam is still experiencing significant numbers of COVID-19 at 15,000 or so every day.

The difference, Austriaco noted, is that the Philippines had substantial waves of previous variants especially the Alpha and Beta, which struck the country in March and April of this year unlike these three other countries.

“And so combining the vaccinations and the natural immunity, what you are seeing here is that many of our cities where the pandemic tends to focus, are now stable enough to prevent transmission,” he said.

The OCTA Research fellow also advised Filipinos not to panic amid the threat posed by COVID-19 Omicron variant, and instead move with caution in celebrating the holidays.

“And so this is not the time to panic. It is the time to be careful. We have to prepare. But we also have to celebrate especially since this is Christmas,” he said.

Austriaco suggested that the country prepare its hospital infrastructure and increase healthcare workers staffing capacity, as he noted reports on nursing staff shortages in Metro Manila during the Alpha and Delta surges in the country.

The government also has to continue vaccinating and boosting the immunity of its population especially senior citizens, he added.

He likewise suggested the strengthening of population immunity around international gateways as the Omicron variant will likely enter the country through an airport.

The Omicron, which was recently classified as variant of concern by the World Health Organization, has not yet been detected in the Philippines.

“I must urge you to get vaccinated because Omicron, when it arrives in the Philippines, will find every unvaccinated Filipino. And you will get sick, and even though it is mild, it is still COVID-19,” he said.

The Philippines has so far fully vaccinated more than 38 million Filipinos against COVID-19.

Since March, the government has administered 91.7 million COVID-19 vaccine doses – more than 56 million of this number was given as first doses.

PUV drivers, pasahero na lalabag sa ‘no vax, no ride’ policy, posibleng maharap sa parusa – DOTr

Robie de Guzman   •   January 18, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Posibleng patawan ng parusa ang mga lalabag sa ipinatutupad na “no vaccination, no ride” policy sa mga pampublikong sasakyan sa Metro Manila sa gitna ng mataas na kaso ng COVID-19 sa bansa.

Ayon sa Department of Transportation (DOTr), ang mga tsuper ng public utility vehicles (PUV) na magpapasakay ng hindi bakunadong pasahero ay titikitan at pagmumultahin na ng mga otoridad simula ngayong Martes.

Batay sa alintuntunin ng Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), pagmumultahin ng P5,000 ang mga unang beses na lalabag sa polisiya, P10,000 at impounding ng sasakyan sa ikalawang paglabag, at P15,000 at suspensyon o kanselasyon ng prangkisa sa ikatlo o higit pang paglabag.

Bagaman hindi sakop ng DOTR ang pagpapataw ng parusa sa mga pasaherong hindi otorisadong bumiyahe, maaari pa ring pagmultahin ang mga ito batay sa nakasaad sa mga ordinansa na ipinasa ng local government unit (LGU) sa Metro Manila.

Maaari ding makasuhan ang mga pasaherong hindi susunod sa polisiya sa ilalim ng Republic Act 11332 o ang batas sa Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases And Health Events of Public Health Concern.

Kung mahuhulihan ng pekeng vaccination card ang pasahero ay may parusa itong pagkakakulong at nasa P1 milyong multa.

Ayon sa DOTr, naging mapayapa sa kabuuan ang unang araw ng pagpapatupad ng polisiya.

May naitala namang mahigit sa 1,700 na pasahero ng tren ang sumubok na sumakay kahit walang maipakitang vaccionation card noong Lunes.

Hindi saklaw ng “no vaccination, no ride” policy ang mga indibidwal na hindi maaaring bakunahan dahil sa medikal na kondisyon pati na ang mga lumabas lang para sa essential goods at services.

Ang mga pasaherong kasama sa exemptions ay pinapayuhang magdala ng dokumento gaya ng medical certificate o clearance mula sa barangay. (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Asher Cadapan Jr.)

DILG warns public, says no such thing as ‘COVID vaccination exemption cards’

Robie de Guzman   •   January 18, 2022

Image from DILG

The Department of the Interior and Local Government on Tuesday said that there is no such thing as “COVID-19 vaccination exemption cards.”

“The public is warned that there is no such thing as a ‘vaccination exemption card.’ This is not authorized, issued, nor recognized by the government. In other words, these are fake,” DILG Spokesperson, Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said in a statement.

Malaya said they have received reports that this card supposedly originated from Facebook groups and group chats in Davao Region and Soccsksargen that can allegedly be registered to local government units (LGUs).

The cards are also supposedly recognized by local authorities in lieu of COVID-19 vaccination cards.

According to reports, people are being asked to put their name, birthdate, address, and signatures on the green vaccination exemption card being shared in FB groups and group chats, have the cards printed, laminated, and registered to their barangay/city/municipal LGUs.

“The so-called exemption cards look similar to the green COVID-19 Vaccination Cards being issued by several LGUs,” Malaya said.

“Sa biglang tingin aakalain itong tunay dahil pareho ng kulay, format at hitsura,” he added.

Malaya said the government will never issue nor recognize such cards because this runs counter to the government’s national vaccination program to inoculate the majority of the populace to achieve population protection.

He also called on local authorities to be more vigilant in their inspection of vaccination cards at provincial and regional borders amid restrictions being implemented for unvaccinated people.

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.

 

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