Fil-Chinese school in QC makes face mask mandatory

Marje Pelayo   •   January 29, 2020   •   1351

MANILA, Philippines – Several schools across Metro Manila declared class suspension since last week amid novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) scare.

The Philippines remains free of 2019-nCov but observing 26 suspected cases as of Wednesday (January 29).

This, after one of the persons under investigation (OUI) of 2019-nCoV, died of pneumonia at San Lazaro Hospital in Manila.

A Chinese school in Quezon City has ordered the mandatory wearing of face mask within its premises.

Pace Academy is requiring each student to bring two to three face masks a day and advises them to replace the used one every four hours.

Parents and guardians also need to wear mask every time they enter the school premises.

Anyone who enters the school gate needs to go through a temperature check to make sure no one with flu-like symptoms enters the school grounds.

Teachers support the measure as they believe that ‘prevention is better than cure’ given that the current strain of nCoV still has no confirmed treatment or cure yet.

“We suspended classes yesterday in order for the students to prepare (what we require them to bring) like facemask in order to prevent the spread of the virus in case there is,” explained Teacher Kae Tugade.

The school management also obliged all staff who had recent trips to China to secure a medical certificate first clearing them of any infection or disease before they report back to work.

Almost 600 Filipino-Chinese students are enrolled at Pace Academy.

Parents and guardians couldn’t agree more with the school’s new policy.

“Ang immune system nila ay mas low compared sa adults kaya mas double protection na rin sa kanila (Their immune system is weaker than the adults so they need double the protection),” noted Aimee See whose child is enrolled in the said school.

Based on the record of the Association of Filipino-Chinese Schools, there are more than 100 Filipino-Chinese schools across the Philippines. MNP (with details from Joan Nano)

IATF expands services in salons, barbershops amid COVID-19 pandemic

Maris Federez   •   July 7, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force against COVID-19 has expanded the services allowed in salons and barbershops in areas under the general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).

Aside from haircut services, hair treatments are now allowed in salons under the GCQ areas; while nail care, basic facial care services, and basic personal care services will be allowed in areas under MGCQ.

Nevertheless, minimum public health standards will be strictly implemented in both GCQ and MGCQ areas, such as strict protocol on hand sanitation, face mask and face shields, gloves, and sterilized equipment.

The operating capacity in salons and barbershops will also be expanded to 50 percent in GCQ areas and 75 percent in MGCQ areas starting July 16, 2020. —(with details from Rosalie Coz) /mbmf

Brazil’s Bolsonaro tested again for novel coronavirus

UNTV News   •   July 7, 2020

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Monday (July 6) he had undergone another test for the novel coronavirus, after local media reported he had symptoms associated with the COVID-19 respiratory disease, including a fever.

Bolsonaro told supporters outside the presidential palace that he had just visited the hospital and been tested for the virus, adding that an exam had shown his lungs “clean.”

CNN Brasil and newspaper Estado de S.Paulo reported that he had symptoms of the disease, such as a fever. The president’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bolsonaro has repeatedly played down the impact of the virus, even as Brazil has suffered one of the world’s worst outbreaks, with more than 1.6 million confirmed cases and 65,000 related deaths, according to official data on Monday.

The right-wing populist has often defied local guidelines to wear a mask in public, even after a judge ordered him to do so in late June.

Over the weekend, Bolsonaro attended multiple events and was in close contact with the U.S. ambassador to Brazil during July 4 celebrations. The U.S. embassy in Brasilia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bolsonaro previously tested negative for the coronavirus after several aides were diagnosed following a visit to U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, Florida, estate in March. (Reuters)

(Production: Leonardo Benassatto, Paul Vieira)

Singapore’s migrant workers fear financial ruin after virus ordeal

UNTV News   •   June 9, 2020

As Sharif Uddin begins to dream about leaving the cramped Singapore dormitory where he has spent weeks under coronavirus quarantine, fears about his future are creeping in.

The 42-year-old Bangladeshi construction site supervisor is one of the thousands of low-income migrant workers trapped in packed bunk rooms that have been ravaged by the coronavirus, accounting for more than 90% of Singapore’s 38,000 infections.

As Singapore began easing its lockdown measures this month, migrants like Uddin started to think about returning to the outside world, bringing to the surface worries about jobs and debts as Singapore braces for its deepest-ever recession.

“The fear of losing jobs is worrying everyone at the moment,” said Uddin, who sends the bulk of his wages to his family in Bangladesh, like many of the South Asians working in manual jobs in Singapore.

For most migrant workers, at least part of their salaries is used to pay off the steep fees of the agent who helped procure the job.

Reuters has interviewed over a dozen migrant workers in Singapore in recent weeks. While many said they were still being paid, they were unsure if they will retain their jobs when the quarantine is lifted.

The Singapore government has given companies tax breaks to try and ensure migrants get paid while under quarantine and introduced measures to help laid off workers find new positions without having to first travel back to their home country, a core complaint of many labourers.

Lawrence Wong, the co-head of Singapore’s virus task force, told Reuters that the government had taken steps to help alleviate the concerns of workers around job security, but added that layoffs were possible given the grim economic outlook.

“There may be some contractors who might decide – well despite all the government measures, with the new arrangements, the new additional requirements in construction, it is very difficult and I might not want to continue in this industry – and then indeed they might release some of their workers,” said Wong, who is also the minister for national development.

He added that some workers may remain quarantined in their dormitories until August, or possibly beyond, as the government completes mass testing.

The pandemic has drawn attention to the stark inequalities in the modern city-state where more than 300,000 labourers from Bangladesh, India and China often live in rooms for 12 to 20 men, working jobs that pay as little as S$20 ($14.30) a day.

That is higher than they would make at home. But the median salary for Singaporeans in 2019 was S$4,563 per month, according to the manpower ministry.

The bigger worry for many migrants like Uddin is the debts they have racked up securing jobs in Singapore.

Migrants will usually be charged S$7,000-10,000 in fees by a recruitment agent in their home country, equivalent to more than a year of their basic salary, according to rights groups. If they lose their job, this debt could haunt their families for years.

“An indebted worker is a more compliant worker and that is what the employers like. That is one reason too that employers prefer to have new workers, than to retain old workers,” said Deborah Fordyce, president of Singapore NGO Transient Workers Count Too.

Wong, the minister, said the government will continue to work to improve migrants’ lives in Singapore, but tackling issues like fees is difficult because many agents operate in the workers’ home countries outside the city-state’s jurisdiction.

Singapore’s government has pledged to improve living conditions for migrant workers in the short-term and build new, higher-spec dormitories over the coming years. (Reuters)

(Production: Pedja Stanisic, Joseph Campbell, Edgar Su, Travis Teo)

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