‘Some refused to deliver essentials to our home’: Sen. Angara’s wife bares difficulties amid COVID-19 quarantine

Robie de Guzman   •   March 30, 2020   •   775

MANILA, Philippines — Days after Senator Sonny Angara confirmed he tested positive for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), his wife, Elvira “Tootsy” Angara took to social media to bare the difficulties they have to deal with amid their household quarantine.

In an Instagram post, Tootsy revealed that some have refused to deliver essentials to their home after news about the senator’s health condition broke out.

She also said that a neighbor wanted them out of the village.

“As soon as the news came out, some have refused to deliver essentials to our home, a neighbor wished to have us out of our neighborhood, and I don’t blame them,” she said on her profile on Saturday.

View this post on Instagram

I miss my Sonny boy 💖 the last time we held hands was during the Ama namin as we watched the online mass as a family 2 weeks ago. It was sad i couldnt give him a big tight hug to say it was going to be okay when he got his results. It pains me that i am not able to take care of him the way he took care of me when i was sick ..i feel sad thay we cant be there for him and he has to go through this physically alone.. its lonely for all of us but we know its just a matter of time 💖 As soon as the news came out… some have refused to deliver essentials to our home .. a neighbor wished to have us out of our neighborhood… and i dont blame them … To our other neighbors who showed us acts of kindness, thank you💖 I had to reach out and ask for help.. our entire household quarantined for 14 days…family and friends sent us drinking water when we ran out, they sent us oxygen too.. the 2 most essential things in life.. water and air 💖 some sent us fruits, vegetables, medical supplies ,cleaning aids, vitamins for our household 💖 The doctors.. the dear doctors who have been patiently answering my messages , my inquiries and questions.. i cannot thank you enough 🙏🙏🙏 I am forever grateful for all the beautiful and kind souls God blessed us with. I do have moments of weakness where i break down and cry ..because i miss him a lot and dont know what i can do to help.. but i choose to be strong and realized that prayer calmed my heart and made me believe Sonny was going to be okay.. I have faith God will help him get through this.. When I feel sad or scared I pray the rosary by myself of with other ladies on zoom or listen to the online masses. The kids and I have to stay healthy physically and spiritually because at this point that is all the counts.. then before we know it, sonner than later with GODs healing power we will have our dearest strong, healthy and funny Papi back.. 💖 To all our dear friends, may i ask for your prayers for Sonnys complete recovery 🙏 🙏🙏🙏 and pls keep yourselves safe 💖💖💖

A post shared by tootsyangara💖💖💖 (@tootsyangara) on

She, however, said there are those who helped the household as they undergo a 14-day quarantine. Some have sent them drinking water and food, vitamins and cleaning supplies.

“To our other neighbors who showed us acts of kindness, thank you… Our entire household quarantined for 14 days, family and friends sent us drinking water when we ran out, they sent us oxygen too, the 2 most essential things in life, water and air, some sent us fruits, vegetables, medical supplies ,cleaning aids, vitamins for our household,” she said.

She also thanked the doctors who patiently answered her messages during her husband’s battle against the virus.

“The dear doctors who have been patiently answering my messages, my inquiries and questions. I cannot thank you enough, I am forever grateful for all the beautiful and kind souls God blessed us with,” she said.

Angara’s wife also shared that she feels sad and pained for not being able to take care of her husband who is in quarantine, and admitted to breaking down amid the difficult situation.

“I do have moments of weakness where I break down and cry, because I miss him a lot and don’t know what I can do to help. But I choose to be strong and realized that prayer calmed my heart and made me believe Sonny was going to be okay,” she said.

“I have faith God will help him get through this,” she added.

Angara is the third Filipino senator to have contracted coronavirus following Koko Pimentel and Juan Miguel Zubiri.

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)

Angara wants more COVID-19 mega quarantine facilities in Cebu

Robie de Guzman   •   June 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sonny Angara on Tuesday called for the establishment of more mega quarantine facilities in Central Visayas, especially in Cebu as it emerges as the new epicenter of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country.

“The Department of Health should step up its response in Cebu City because the only way that we can flatten the curve is if all areas of the country are able to control the spread of the disease,” Angara said in a statement.

As of June 28, 2020, Region 7 has breached the 8,000 mark on the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, with Cebu City accounting for 4,962 of these infections.

A total of 252 COVID-19 deaths have also been recorded, with 157 of these from Cebu City.

Cebu City is the only area in the country placed under enhanced community quarantine.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF) earlier said it is now looking for possible sites to construct additional isolation or quarantine facilities in Cebu City.

Angara noted that a newly-constructed quarantine facility in the city, which can accommodate more than 300 patients, was opened on Monday, June 29.

The senator, a COVID-19 survivor, also called on more hospitals in Cebu City to consider using convalescent plasma therapy to treat severe cases of coronavirus disease.

Some hospitals in Metro Manila and Cebu undertook efforts to use convalescent plasma therapy and hybrid therapeutic plasma exchange as possible treatments for COVID-19 patients.

The hybrid therapeutic plasma exchange involves the removal of bad plasma from a patient and replacing these with good plasma from donors.

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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