South Korean city returns to tighter social distancing as coronavirus cases spike

UNTV News   •   July 3, 2020   •   672

South Korea reported 63 new coronavirus cases as of Thursday (July 2), most from domestic infections outside Seoul, triggering the return of tighter social distancing curbs in one city as the spectre of a second wave of the disease worried authorities.

For the first time in almost two months, new daily cases from other cities surpassed those from Seoul area. The southwestern city of Gwangju has recorded more than 50 cases the past few days, prompting the suspension of operations at public facilities such as libraries and museums.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun told a meeting on Friday (July 3) that the government is seeking ways to support Gwangju city and immediately upgraded its social distancing guidelines.

The recent spikes are concerning as new clusters are emerging in wide range of areas, making it harder for epidemiological surveys. But with the case numbers still manageable, local governments will each decide whether to upgrade their guidelines, Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip told a briefing.

The new cases took South Korea’s tally to 12,967 with 282 deaths by midnight on Thursday. (Reuters)

(Production: Hyunyoung Yi)

IATF allows TESDA to hold in-person assessments for household service workers in MECQ areas

Robie de Guzman   •   May 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The government’s task force for COVID-19 response has allowed the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to conduct face-to-face assessments for household service workers in areas under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), Malacañang said Friday.

However, the conduct of the activity is subject to conditions, according to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

Roque said in-person assessments shall be held only in TESDA Training Institutions and will remain prohibited in private assessment centers.

The activity will also be limited to household service workers who are ready for deployment and have already secured contracts and visas.

“Applicants must further abide by TESDA guidelines relative to the conduct of in-person assessments,” Roque said.

The Palace official likewise announced that the IATF has also allowed the resumption of Career Executive Service Written Examinations and Assessment Centers by the Career Executive Service Board, subject to health and safety protocols and the strict observance of the minimum public health standards.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) approved this policy in a meeting on Thursday, May 13.

Duterte tells local execs to strictly enforce quarantine protocols, forego fiesta celebrations

Robie de Guzman   •   May 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday night directed local government officials to strictly implement community quarantine protocols and to prohibit fiesta celebrations in their localities amid the continuing threat of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

During a pre-taped public address late Thursday, Duterte warned local executives that they would be held accountable if they fail to enforce COVID-19 protocols.

 “Ang hinihingi ko is that you only not tone down but forego, kasi may batas, forego to congregrate, to crowd and to hold [fiestas],” he said.

“I will not allow the violations of the guidelines given by the task force. I will hold the local governments, down to the last barangay level, and therefore it could only be the barangay captains, I will hold you responsible for any violation itong mga batas na hindi napatutupad,” he added.

Duterte issued the directive as he approved the easing of quarantine restrictions in Metro Manila and other provinces.

Metro Manila and nearby provinces of Cavite, Bulacan, Rizal, and Laguna – called NCR Plus – have been shifted to general community quarantine (GCQ) “with heightened restrictions” from May 15 to May 31.

Other areas under GCQ during the same period are Apayao, Baguio City, Benguet, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Abra, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Batangas, Quezon, Puerto Princesa, Iligan City, Davao City, and Lanao del Sur.

Areas placed under modified enhanced community quarantine are Santiago City, Quirino, Ifugao, and Zamboanga City. The rest of the country will remain under modified GCQ.

Duterte emphasized that enforcing health protocols in the localities must be stringent to allow the country to recover from the pandemic and to prevent virus transmission.

He also reminded the public to wear face mask, frequently wash their hands and to stay at home.

“This is really a law so you have to enforce it because if you want this country to recover form the onslaught of COVID-19, you have to be mindful of what is going on and how to prevent it,” Duterte said.

“Nakikiusap ako, there are a lot of fiestas which you would like to hold, the problem is there is also the consequence which we must be mindful of,” he added.

Duterte places NCR Plus under GCQ with heightened restrictions starting May 15

Maris Federez   •   May 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte announced on Thursday night the new quarantine restrictions to cover Metro Manila and neighboring provinces beginning May 15.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the President has approved the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to place the National Capital Region (NCR), Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal – collectively known as the NCR Plus area – under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) with heightened restrictions from May 15 to 31, 2021.

Other areas placed under the GCQ with heightened restriction status are the provinces under the Cordillera Administrative Region, such as Apayao, Baguio City, Benguet, Kalinga, Mountain Province and Abra; Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya in Region 2; Batangas and Quezon in Region 4-A; Puerto Princesa in Region 4-B; Iligan City in Region 10; Davao City in Region 11; and Lanao del Sur in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

On the other hand, the City of Santiago and Quirino Province in Region 2; Ifugao in the Cordillera Administrative Region; and Zamboanga City in Region 9 are placed under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ).

Meanwhile, all other areas are placed under Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) until the month’s end.

Under the GCQ with heightened restrictions, only essential travel into and out of the NCR Plus shall be allowed.

“Public transportation shall remain operational at such capacities and protocols in accordance with the Department of Transportation guidelines while the use of active transportation shall be promoted,” the statement said.

Moreover, indoor dine-in services in the NCR Plus shall be at 20% venue or seating capacity, while outdoor or al fresco dining shall be at 50% venue or seating capacity.

Outdoor tourist attractions in the NCR Plus, on the other hand, maybe opened at 30% with strict adherence to minimum public health standards.

“Further allowed in the NCR Plus are specialized markets of the Department of Tourism (DOT) following the minimum public health standards and implementation of protocols and restrictions as set by the DOT,” the statement read.

Meanwhile, religious gatherings and gatherings for necrological services, wakes, inurnment, and funerals for those who died of causes other than COVID-19 in the NCR Plus shall be allowed up to 10% of the venue capacity.

In his pre-taped Talk to the Nation aired on Thursday, President Duterte particularly mentioned about foregoing congregations especially this month of town fiestas.

“Ang hinihingi ko is that you only not tone down but forego kasi may batas. Forego to congregate, to crowd, and to hold [fiestas]. Walang problema, alam ng Dios na love natin Siya. But ang problema is the necessary consequence of it all,” the President said.

“I will not allow violations of the guidelines given by the task force. And I will hold the local government down to the barangay level, and therefore, it could only be the barangay captains. I will hold you responsible for any violations, sa mga batas na hindi natutupad. Batas ito. You have to enforce it because if you want this country to recover from the onslaught of COVID-19, you have to be mindful of what is going on and how to prevent it,” the President further said.

Also continued to be allowed in areas under the GCQ with heightened restrictions are non-contact sports in outdoor contact sports, games, scrimmages held outdoors; and personal care services that allow for services not requiring mask removal, such as salons, parlors, beauty clinics, etc at 30% capacity.

Individuals, 18-65 years of age, are allowed to go out of their homes in GCQ areas with heightened restrictions.

“Meanwhile, entertainment venues, such as bars, concert halls, theaters, etc; recreational venues, such as internet cafes, billiards halls, arcades, etc; amusement parks, fairs, playgrounds, kiddie rides; indoor sports courts and venues and indoor tourist attractions; venues for meetings, conferences, exhibitions shall not be allowed in GCQ areas with heightened restrictions,” Roque’s statement read.

Interzonal travel from NCR Plus areas, except those conducted by Authorized Persons Outside Residence (APOR), shall remain prohibited in the GCQ areas with heightened restrictions, the statement further read.

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