Sotto pushes for wider COVID-19 mass testing as May 15 ECQ end nears

Robie de Guzman   •   May 11, 2020   •   364

Senate President Vicente Sotto III

MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Vicente Sotto III is calling on the government to expand the mass testing for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as areas currently under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) anticipate a transition to a more relaxed general community quarantine period.

In a statement issued over the weekend, Sotto said the coverage of the mass testing being conducted by the Department of Health (DOH) must be widened to cover more people, especially those who will soon be allowed to go back to work under a GCQ status.

The senator expressed concern that most workers will return to their workplaces even as the rate of COVID-19 infections remains high, especially in Metro Manila.

Sotto said that at the Senate, 20 employees were found positive during a rapid testing conducted when the sessions resumed last Monday.

He said this should serve as an eye-opener to government leaders and the general population who have been pushing for the relaxation of quarantine rules even while the threat of coronavirus remains high.

“These employees duly complied with the stay-at-home order of the government. They just stayed inside their homes for almost two months. They were not exposed to anyone who is sick of COVID-19. They did not show and feel any of the symptoms,” he said.

“Kung sila na nasa bahay lang at sumunod sa lahat ng health protocols ay nag-positive sa virus, siguradong mas malala ang pwedeng mangyari kung ma-lift na ang enhanced community quarantine at ang lahat ay papayagan ng lumabas ng kanilang mga bahay,” he added.

Sotto stressed that an expanded mass testing will give health officials “a clearer picture of the extent of COVID-19 transmission and infection.”

He said the results of an expanded mass testing coverage will also serve to caution government leaders against prematurely lifting the current ECQ in Metro Manila and other areas and rushing their transition to general or relaxed quarantine.

“Magagabayan ng resulta ng mas malawak na mass testing ang ating mga lider para sila ay maghinay-hinay sa pagbuo ng desisyon ukol sa pagtanggal ng ECQ. The premature lifting of the strict quarantine regulation could lead to a worse second COVID-19 wave,” Sotto said.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) will discuss on Monday its final recommendations on the fate of the enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila.

After its meeting on Monday morning, the IATF will submit it recommendations to President Rodrigo Duterte for his final decision on the matter.

Metro Manila and other areas in the country with high COVID-19 cases have been placed under ECQ until May 15.

Tricycle, e-trikes at bangka, pinayagan nang bumiyahe ng ilang LGUs

Marje Pelayo   •   August 4, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Ilang lokal na pamahalaan sa Metro Manila ang pinayagan na ang pagbyahe ng mga tricycle, e-trikes at bangka sa kani-kanilang lugar sa gitna ng pag-iral ng modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

Subalit, tiniyak ng mga ito na nasusunod ang mahigpit na health and safety protocols para sa mga drivers at pasahero. 

Sa Navotas City, may byahe na ng bangka papunta sa Malabon City para maghatid ng mga pasaherong papasok sa trabaho at uuwi sa kani-kanilang bahay. 

Limang piso (P5) kada isang tao ang singil ng mga bangkero at ayon kay Geronimo Meno, malaking tulong na ito pantawid sa kaniyang pamilya.

“Nakakaraos naman pang-araw-araw. Kahit pang-bigas, nakakakuha,” pahayag nito.

Si Lalaine Ama, malaki na ang nagastos para lang makapasok sa trabaho simula nang magluwag ang community quarantine sa Metro Manila.

Mula Navotas City ay kailangan niyang bumiyahe patungong Quezon City araw-araw.

“Noong unang linggo ng June na pumasok na, P400 plus ang pamasahe ko,” aniya.

Ngayong balik MECQ, naglaaan na ng service ang kanilang kumpanya pero sa Malabon pa ito nakahimpil kaya kailangan pa rin niyang sumakay ng bangka para makarating kung saan nakaistasyon ang kanilang service.

Pero malaking tipid na rin aniya kasya sumakay siya ng tricycle palabas ng C4 kung saan gagastos siya ng P50 kada byahe.

Bukod sa bangka ay pinayagan na ring makabyahe ang tricycle at pedicab pero ayon kay Mang Virgilio Cañese, mababa na sa ngayon ang kanilang kinikita.

“Dati nakaka P400 kami, P500. Ngayon swerte na maka P100 ka ngayon dahil walang tumatawid,” ayon kay Mang Virgilio na 30 taon ng padyak driver.

Pinayagan ng city government ang ganitong sasakyan sa ilalim ng MECQ para makapaghatid ng mga manggagawa na pinapayagang makapagtrabaho partikular sa Navotas Fishport.

Sa Maynila naman, pinayagan na ni Mayor Isko Domagoso ang pagpasada ng mga tricycle, e-trikes at pedicab sa lungsod kahit MECQ upang matulungan ang mga driver na kumita para sa kanilang pamilya.

Gayunman, mahigpit ang bilin ng alkalde na isang pasahero lang dapat sa bawat byahe ang pwedeng maisakay.

“Kaya sa lahat ng kaanak ninyo, maghanap buhay kayo sa tatlong gulong. Mayroon lang akong ipakikisuyo: tupdin natin ang panawagan ng IATF. Hangga’t maaari, isang pasahero lang,” pagbibigay diin nito.

Bukod sa Navotas at Maynila, pinayagan na rin ang mga sasakyang ito sa lugar ng Muntinlupa, Pasig, Paranaque, Taguig, Valenzuela, at Quezon City. 

Sa isang panayam sinabi ni Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) General Manager Jojo Garcia na papayagan lamang ang mga tricycle na bumiyahe kung ito ay para maghatid ng medical frontliners, sa panahon ng emergency, at para sa mga taong kailangang bumili ng essential goods. –MNP (sa ulat ni Rey Pelayo)

Filipinos abroad with COVID-19 now at 9,607 – DFA

Robie de Guzman   •   August 4, 2020

The number of Filipinos overseas who have contracted novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has increased to 9,607 with 10 new infections, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Tuesday.

In its latest bulletin, the DFA said 28 more Filipinos have recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recovered patients to 5,681.

The death toll remained at 693, it added.

“As we continue to battle against this pandemic, the DFA rallies the Filipinos here and abroad to cooperate and responsibly adhere to precautionary measures of the local health authorities of the respective countries in which they reside,” the department said in a statement.

The DFA also reported that 3,233 are undergoing treatment.

Of this number, 254 are in the Asia Pacific Region, 512 in Europe, 2,327 in the Middle East and Africa, and 140 in the Americas, it added.

Mandaluyong LGU puts city under special concern lockdown

Maris Federez   •   August 4, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The local government of Mandaluyong has put all barangays in the city under special concern lockdown amid the implementation of the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in Metro Manila.

Eleven barangays in the city are classified as areas of special concern by the local government due to high cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

But with the reversion of the National Capital Region (NCR) to MECQ on Tuesday (Aug. 4), the Mandaluyong government decided to put the whole city on special concern lockdown.

Mandaluyong’s Executive Order (EO) No 24 stated that under special concern lockdown, stricter curfew measures will be implemented from 8:00 PM to 5:00 AM.

Only individuals classified as Authorized Persons Outside of Residence (APOR) will be allowed to go out.

The city government is also mulling over applying the previous MECQ guidelines anew, such as on scheduling market days in every barangay.

With the start of the curfew on Tuesday night, the local government advises those who work on graveyard shifts to secure a work pass from their employers.  

“Yung mga work passes kasi ang requirements lang naman niyan per barangay is to ahow to the barangay their ano certificate of employment. para atleast kahit papaano, makapasok sila sa trabaho nila,” said Jimmy Isidro, the Mandaluyong City government chief of staff.

The city government is also considering enforcing liquor ban in the area anew during the MECQ.

Employees at the Mandaluyong City Hall are also on a skeleton workforce to receive documents and transactions as business in the city is open as usual. — (with details from Vincent Arboleda) /mbmf

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