QC govt halts retail selling in Balintawak markets to maintain social distancing

Maris Federez   •   April 12, 2020   •   706

MANILA, Philippines— The Quezon City government has ordered the suspension of retail selling in the seven markets in Balintawak.

This is to maintain social distancing in the area to stop the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

A press release posted on Facebook on Saturday (April 11) said the consensus was reached following the meeting by Quezon City officials and the owners of Cloverleaf, North Diversion, Riverview I, Riverview II, Pilson’s, MC, and Edsan Bagsakan markets under the directive of Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte.

Napagkasunduan sa pulong na itigil muna ang retail operations o bentahan nang tingi sa mga palengke sa Balintawak [It was agreed upon during our meeting that we will temporarily stop retail operations or selling of products in small quantities in the markets in Balintawak],” said Belmonte.

The move was prompted by reports that Balintawak had been crowded on Saturday despite the Luzon-wide quarantine order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease.

The statement added that that only wholesale selling and drop-off of products will be as the Balintawak markets are crucial in ensuring the supply of vegetables and other farm products in various parts of Metro Manila.

“Starting tomorrow, we expect the crowd to thin out in the area,” said Belmonte.

The local chief executive pointed out that that more than half of marketgoers in Balintawak are from neighboring cities.

Meanwhile, Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) Spokesperson, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles confirmed the local government’s move and announced the same during Sunday’s morning presser.

Market owners agreed with the City’s move, saying the cooperation of everyone is needed to stop the spread of COVID-19.

According to Assistant City Administrator for Operations Alberto Kimpo, the market owners themselves will ensure that only their wholesale operations remain. The affected retail vendors, meanwhile, will then be accommodated by the QC Fresh Market on Wheels program.

“They will be picked up by jeepneys that the City will hire and will be brought to various Barangays where they can sell their goods,” said Kimpo.

Kimpo added that retail shoppers will be barred from entering portions of Samson Road and EDSA in front of the Balintawak markets.

The local government warned that any violation will result in the immediate closure of the violator-market. – mbmf

CDC reverses earlier COVID-19 guidance that said asymptomatic people may not need testing

Maris Federez   •   September 19, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday (US Eastern Time) reversed its controversial coronavirus testing guidance that said people who were exposed to an infected person but weren’t showing any symptoms “do not necessarily need a test.”

The new guidance says that people who have been in close contact with an infected person and do not have symptoms “need a test.”

“Due to the significance of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, this guidance further reinforces the need to test asymptomatic persons, including close contacts of a person with documented SARS-CoV-2 infection,” the CDC says.

The agency defines “close contact” as being within 6 feet of a person with a confirmed COVID-19 infection for at least 15 minutes.

The CDC guidance reversal followed criticisms from public health specialists on the agency’s change in testing guidance in August that seemed to downplay the significance of testing people who don’t have symptoms but could be spreading the virus.

The new guidance also advised people who are waiting for their test results to “self-quarantine/isolate at home and stay separated from household members to the extent possible and use a separate bedroom and bathroom, if available.”

The CDC also reiterated its recommendations to follow “measures to mitigate the spread of the virus and to protect people at increased risk of severe illness:  social distancing, wearing a mask when social distancing is not possible, avoiding crowds, avoiding indoor crowded spaces, and washing or sanitizing hands frequently.” —/mbmf

Trump shifts rhetoric, warns virus is getting worse and urges use of masks

UNTV News   •   July 22, 2020

President Donald Trump warned Americans on Tuesday (July 21) that the toll from the novel coronavirus would get worse before it got better, and encouraged Americans to wear a mask if they cannot maintain social distance from people around them.

In his first briefing in months focused on the pandemic, Trump told reporters at the White House that the virus would probably get worse before it gets better, in one of his first recent acknowledgments of how bad the problem has become.

“Some areas of our country are doing very well. Others are doing less well. It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better – something I don’t like saying about things, but that’s the way it is,” he said.

In a shift in rhetoric, Trump encouraged Americans to wear masks, and pulled a mask out of his pocket, saying he carries it around.

“I mean I carry the mask,” he said, before reaching into his pocket and pulling out a blue face mask. “And I will use it gladly, no problem with it, and I’ve said that. And I say, if you can, use the mask. When you can, use the mask. If you’re close to each other, if you’re in a group, I would put it on when I’m in a group.”

Trump, who downplayed the virus in its early stages and has been focused on reopening the economy in recent months despite an increase in cases, has been reluctant to wear a mask himself in public. He wore one for the first time in public during a recent visit to a military hospital but has otherwise eschewed putting one on in front of the press.

Mask-wearing has become a partisan issue, with some Trump supporters saying being required to do infringes on their liberties.

As coronavirus cases skyrocket across the country, including in politically important states such as Florida, Texas and Arizona, the president is shifting his tone to try to get the number of cases under control as he fights for re-election against Democrat Joe Biden, who leads in opinion polls ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

He urged young Americans to avoid crowded bars where the virus could spread.

“We are imploring young Americans to avoid packed bars and other crowded indoor gatherings. Be safe and be smart,” he said.

Trump again argued that the virus would disappear at some point, but most of his comments on Tuesday were largely a sober recognition of how bad the problem has become.

Trump sought to leave some optimism about scientific developments in vaccines and treatments even as he acknowledged the grim statistics at present.

When asked if the U.S. would cooperate with China on a vaccine, Trump, who several times called the virus “the China virus” during the news conference, said Washington would.

“Yeah, we’re willing to work with anybody that’s going to get us a good result. We’re very close to the vaccine. I think we’re going to have some very good results,” he said.

Nearly 142,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. (Reuters)

(Production: Arlene Eiras)

Mayor Sotto suspends Landers branch for breach of social distancing rules

Marje Pelayo   •   July 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The local government of Pasig City has suspended a branch of membership supermarket Landers in Barangay Ugong for failing to observe physical distancing.

In his post on Twitter, Mayor Vico Sotto explained that they usually do not announce business names that violate the policy in consideration of their reputation.

But in the case of Landers, the Mayor opted to reveal the name for the safety of the shoppers given the supermarket’s large number of members.

According to Sotto, only the grocery is temporarily closed but the restaurant, barbershop, plant shop, pharmacy, and parking space remain open for business.

Sotto said the management of the supermarket already expressed compliance with the policy.

“We encourage them to use the next few days to improve their health/safety protocols,” Mayor Sotto concluded.

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