Sara Duterte says people with COVID-19 symptoms should be barred from boarding sweeper flights

Robie de Guzman   •   May 29, 2020   •   537

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte urged government agencies in-charge of facilitating sweeper flights for its residents stranded in Manila not to allow those who show signs of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) or those infected with the virus to board the aircraft.

Duterte made the call on Thursday following reports that several returning Davao residents through special flights tested positive for the dreaded viral disease.

Last week, four overseas Filipino workers aboard a sweeper flight tested positive for COVID-19. A few days later, two more persons who came home through another special flight failed to pass the city health office’s health screening.

“Kinahanglan nato i-screen ang mosulod, and kinahanglan pud nato i-screen ang mogawas because dapat dili makasakay ang Covid-19 positive nga tao and dapat dili pud makasakay ang naga manifest og symptoms,” she said.

(We need to screen those coming in and going out because people infected with COVID-19 should not be allowed to board the flight as well as those who are exhibiting symptoms.)

She explained that screening at the airport is necessary to stop the virus from spreading to other people and places.

In line with this, the presidential daughter said a screening station will be established at the Davao International Airport to ensure that all individuals boarding their flights when commercial operations resume are free of the disease.

She said the screening station will be manned 24/7 by the City Health Office

“Gi-ingnan nato ang atoang City Health Office nga to prepare a 24-hour rotational scheme nga mag duty sa airport. Sa new normal, kung sundon ang distancing, kung masunod ang limit sa flights, mga around 2,000 a day ang mogawas,” she said.

(We have directed our City Health Office to prepare a 24-hour rotational scheme for those who will be on duty in the airport. In the new normal, if the social distancing measure and flight capacity limit will be observed, around 2,000 people will depart.)

The city government has so far accommodated 2,266 inbound passengers and 3,635 outbound passengers since April 29.

DOH allows private companies to implement lockdown

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 29, 2020

The Department of Health (DOH) will allow private companies to implement lockdown in their offices or health care facilities to prevent coronavirus disease (COVID-19) exposure.

DOH Spokesperson Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire said aside from the minimum health protocols, private companies should also consider the mental health of their employees if they will implement a lockdown.

For example may mga ibang ospital (For example, there are hospitals) that would rather have their employees stay with them, they have their dormitory. Wala munang uuwi dito muna kasi kapag umuwi kayo sa community you go back at nadadala niyo ang mga impeksyon dito (No one will go home yet because, once you go home to your community and you come back, you might bring the infection here), she said.

According to the Health Department, the duration of the lockdown will depend on the agreement between the company and its employees. She also reminded employees that they can also decline being put into lockdown.

Hindi naman dapat pumayag din ang isang employee kung iyan ay labag sa kaniya. Mayroon naman silang ganoong karapatan kailangan lang po na naipapaliwang ng maayos (Employees don’t need to agree if they don’t want to. They have the right to do so. Things must be explained properly),Vergeire added.

The health official also reminded private companies to make sure that their employees understand the reason behind the lockdown, taking into account the difficulty of being away from their families especially during the pandemic.

Vergeire also said employees should also be able to talk to experts with regards to their mental health.

“It is okay not to be okay especially at this time during our situation in the pandemic. Okay lang po iyan lahat tayo nakakaramdam ng ganiyan (That’s okay, we all feel that). We just have to have that coping mechanism,” she said. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Davao City to roll out measles immunization drive starting Oct. 25

Robie de Guzman   •   September 29, 2020

The government of Davao City on Tuesday said it is planning to conduct a city-wide measles immunization drive from Oct. 25 to November 26.

In a statement, the city government called on parents to have their children age nine to 59 months immunized against measles during the said dates.

According to Dr. Julinda Acosta, head of the City Health Office (CHO) Technical Division, the city-wide immunization activity this year will be held in fixed posts like barangay health centers, health stations, nutrition posts, as well as temporary posts such as covered courts, instead of the previous house-to-house strategy. 

“This is so ma-ensure talaga natin ang proper screening and precautionary safety protocols. The measles vaccination kasi is injection, hindi patak. Dapat maganda yung area sa immunization sites,” Acosta said.

(This is to ensure the proper screening and precautionary safety protocols. The measles vaccination is administered through injection, not drops. There must be proper immunization sites.)

A virtual orientation will also be conducted with 182 barangay captains all over the city to disseminate the information.

Measles is a disease that comes from the rubeola virus and commonly affects children aged 6 months up to 12 years old. Its symptoms include high fever, cough and colds, swollen eyes, and red rashes all over the body.

The city government said it targets to vaccinate at least 150,000 children regardless of immunization status to make sure that there is no child left behind. 

The CHO noted that this year, the city recorded lower measles cases with 133 and two deaths compared to the 835 cases and 13 deaths reported in the previous year.

Acosta attributed this to community quarantine protocols which prohibit children from going out amid the coronavirus pandemic.

She, however, pointed out that the public health crisis has also created a pool of unvaccinated children due to the movement restrictions and that there is no room for complacency.

“These children are susceptible to the disease and they need to be vaccinated in order to prevent a possible outbreak,” she said.

Acosta expressed hope that parents would have their children immunized as measles is a deadly disease but can be prevented through a vaccine.

“We encourage parents. Paano ngayon na nasa Covid situation tayo and what if naa na pud mag outbreak na mga preventable diseases. So sana maprotektahan nato ang mga bata,” she said. 

(Now that we are in this COVID situation, what if there would be an outbreak of preventable diseases. So we hope that we can protect the children.)

Acosta assured that the vaccines for measles are safe to use.

Filipino seafarers with COVID-19 in Western Australia now at 17

Robie de Guzman   •   September 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The number of Filipino crew members who have contracted novel coronavirus disease aboard a ship off Port Hedland has climbed to 17, the Department of Health Western Australia (WA) reported.

In a media release on Monday, the department said the eight new positive cases from the ship Patricia Oldendorff are part of the crew who were transferred to hotel quarantine.

“This brings the total confirmed cases associated with the vessel to 17 —seven aboard the vessel as part of the essential crew and 10 in hotel quarantine,” the Department of Health WA said.

The four remaining crew have tested negative, it added.

The ship is maintained by Filipino crew with 20 members and a captain.

“All crew members are in good spirits and have been able to contact family at home. Crew also have been provided access to culturally appropriate food by a Filipino chef,” the department said.

“Planning continues with the vessel operator, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and Pilbara Ports Authority regarding the safety of the vessel and potential replacement crew – if required. Daily cleaning of the vessel also continues,” it added.

The vessel arrived in Port Hedland on Sept. 16. Prior to their arrival, the vessel had a crew change in the Philippines on Sept. 5, according to the statement of the shipping company Oldendorff Carriers.

The shipping company said all crew members underwent quarantine process in the Philippines and yielded negative results when tested with PNA-PCR prior to joining the vessel.

Upon arrival in Port Hedland, the captain notified port authorities that two crewmembers were not feeling well.

“The authorities arranged for the crew to be tested and two crewmembers initially tested positive for the virus. Subsequent RNA-PCR tests have shown that 17 crewmembers have now tested positive,” it said.

The company assured that “all crewmembers on board as well as in shore-quarantine are feeling well with only a few seamen showing very slight infection symptoms.”

“We are very concerned about the health and wellbeing of our crewmembers and those caring for them,” it said.

“The authorities have been managing the situation with upmost professionalism. Every effort is being made to contain and improve the situation as quickly as possible,” it added.

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