Phl conducting ‘expanded’ targeted testing, not mass testing vs COVID-19 – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   May 19, 2020   •   679

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday clarified that the Philippines is engaging in ‘expanded’ targeted testing rather than mass testing for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a virtual press forum, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire explained that the term ‘expanded’ targeted testing is more appropriate as they are conducting tests which are focused on people manifesting COVID-19 symptoms and those who have been exposed to positive cases.

“We are trying to veer away from this term na mass testing kasi gusto namin isipin ng mga tao na this is not indiscriminate testing,” she said.

(We are trying to veer away from this term, “mass testing” because we want people to think that this is not indiscriminate testing.)

“Pag sinabi mong mass testing iniisip ng mga tao buong populasyon ng Pilipinas, which is not the case,” she added. “Ang expanded testing po iyon pa rin po iyong tayo ay magpo-focus doon sa mga taong kailangan talagang i-test talaga because of exposure and symptoms.”

(When you say mass testing, the people would think it is for the entire Philippine population, which is not the case. The expanded testing focuses on people who really need to get tested because of exposure and symptoms.)

The DOH made the statement in support of Malacañang’s earlier pronouncement that the use of the term “mass testing” is incorrect.

According to DOH’s first guidelines, those who will be required to undergo COVID-19 testing include people who have exhibited symptoms, have had contact with an infected person, with travel history to areas with COVID-19 cases and those who are in severe or critical condition.

It later expanded the protocols to include those among the vulnerable sector such as senior citizens, have pre-existing medical condition and frontline health care workers.

Vergerire said the public also needs to understand that not all Filipinos may undergo testing for COVID-19 with the country’s limited resources.

She added that the government has intensified the contact tracing efforts to further combat the spread of the dreaded viral disease.

“Ang contact tracing po ay napaka-importante para sa ating lahat. This is part of the major components of the response to COVID-19,” she said.

At present, the Philippines has a total of 38,315 contact tracers.

From May 8 to 13, the country has conducted an average of 7,809 tests a day. The government said it aims to conduct at least 30,000 tests a day by the end of the month.

As of May 19, the Philippines has recorded a total of 12,942 COVID-19 cases, with 837 deaths and 2,843 recoveries based on the data published by the DOH. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

DOH warns public on possible airborne transmission of COVID-19

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 10, 2020

The Department of Health (DOH) has warned the public on the possible airborne transmission of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Despite the lack of further studies, the Health Department said they are not dismissing the possibility that COVID-19 might spread in the air. They reminded the public to always adhere to the health and safety protocols.

Patuloy po tayong natututo tungkol sa SARS-CoV-2 at COVID-19. Kabilang na nga po dito ang mode of transmission o paraan ng pagkalat ng COVID-19 (We are continuously learning about SARS-CoV2 and COVID-19. This includes the mode of transmission of COVID-19). It’s an evolving science and new evidence continues to roll out,” according to DOH Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire.

More than 200 scientists urged the World Health Organization (WHO) to acknowledge the possibility of airborne transmission. According to a study, “viruses are released during exhalation, talking and coughing in microdroplets small enough to remain aloft in the air.”

The WHO previously dismissed the possibility of airborne transmission but said they will release a scientific brief summary regarding the collected data on the modes of transmission of COVID-19

“This is a respiratory pathogen and so it is important that what we know is it fits into the guidance that we have, which is why a comprehensive package of interventions is required to be able to stop transmission,” according to WHO Technical Lead on COVID-19 Pandemic Maria Van Kerkhove.

Meanwhile, the DOH said they will also review and verify the evidence and studies about COVID-19 in order to provide appropriate information and advisories to the public.AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Quezon City Hall of Justice closed after 4 personnel contract COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   July 10, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Quezon City Hall of Justice building and its annex will be temporarily shut down after four of its court officers and employees tested positive for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the city government announced on Friday.

The city government said Mayor Joy Belmonte ordered the closure of the buildings for seven days of until the city’s Epidemiological and Disease Surveillance Unit (QC-ESU) has completed the appropriate testing and containment measures.

In her letter to Regional Trial Court Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert and Metropolitan Trial Court Executive Judge Ace Alagar, Belmonte explained that her decision to temporarily shut down the Hall of Justice is to enforce measures during epidemic or outbreak to prevent spread of disease.

QC-ESU head Dr. Rolly Cruz said they will conduct exhaustive contact tracing of all those who were in close contact with the court officers and employees who were found positive and perform follow-up testing as necessary.

Suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases shall be placed on home quarantine or isolation in a quarantine facility as feasible under the circumstances, he added.

Meanwhile, the city’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (DRRMO) started the thorough surface disinfection and misting of the whole City Hall complex.

The agency said the disinfection began on Thursday and will last until Sunday.

Bolsonaro vetos law on obligatory face masks in Brazil

UNTV News   •   July 10, 2020


President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday (July 3) vetoed parts of a law that would have made wearing a face mask obligatory in enclosed spaces where large groups gather, as swathes of Brazil struggle to tame new infections of the coronavirus.

“Today there were various vetoes for legislation that spoke of the obligatory use of face masks, including inside the home. I vetoed (them). No one is going to enter a home and give a fine. I could also have got a fine because I am now without a mask,” he said.

Bolsonaro has regularly flouted social distancing guidelines advised by most health experts, shaking hands and embracing supporters. He has said publicly that his past as an athlete makes him immune to the worst symptoms of the virus.

He has also been widely criticised by health experts for downplaying the severity of the virus which he has dismissed as just “a little flu.” Bolsonaro has pressured governors and mayors for months to reverse lockdown measures and reopen the economy.

Bolsonaro’s veto comes as Brazil nears 1.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday. The virus continues to ravage Latin America’s largest country even as cities reopen bars, restaurants and gyms sparking fears infections will keep rising.

Brazil has the world’s second largest outbreak after the United States and the virus has killed over 60,000 people in the country.

In Rio alone, more than 6,600 people have died of COVID-19 in the past four months. Only 14 countries in the world have a death toll higher than the city. Intensive care units in public hospitals are at 70% capacity.

Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest and worst-hit city, is expected to open bars and restaurants next week. (Reuters)

(Production: Sergio Queiroz, Leonardo Benassatto, Pablo Garcia, Leandra Camera, Paul Vieira)


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