Taiwan reports first death due to coronavirus disease

Marje Pelayo   •   February 17, 2020   •   794

TAIPEI, Taiwan – The country’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) reported on Sunday (February 16) the nation’s first death of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

According to Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chun, the patient was a 61-year-old male living in central Taiwan.

He had Hepatitis B and diabetes prior to contracting the virus.

He, however, had no record of overseas travel, according to Minister Chen.

“This could be Taiwan’s first community transmitted case,” Chen noted in a press briefing.

The man is the country’s 19th confirmed case of COVID-19.

Health officials are still working to determine how he contracted the disease as he worked as a taxi driver who had customers who regularly travels from China, Macau and Hong Kong.

Investigations are being worked out on the man’s medical records, phone records and history of his travel within the country.

Chen said the patient first developed cough on January 27 and he was admitted to the hospital of February 3 due to shortness of breath.

He passed away on February 15 due to pneumonia and sepsis after being confirmed to have COVID-19, according to the Health Minister.

Meanwhile, Minister Chen announced the country’s 20th confirmed case, a 51-year-old male, identified as the younger brother of the 19th patient.

Despite these, Chen reiterated that healthy individuals need not to wear mask but advised the public to constantly wash hands for prevention.

DOF assures enough funds for free COVID-19 vaccine for 20M Filipinos

Robie de Guzman   •   July 31, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Finance (DOF) assured that the Philippine government has enough funds to purchase millions of doses of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine once it becomes available.

In a briefing in Malacañang aired on Friday, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said they have prepared a financing plan to procure COVID-19 vaccines with the help of the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC).

The PITC, an agency under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) engaged in trading and bulk importation of essential goods for the government, has been tasked to manage the financing efforts for the vaccines.

Researchers and scientists across the world are racing to develop vaccines against the viral respiratory disease as cases continue to spike.

Dominguez said a COVID-19 vaccine could be approved by December this year.

He said the vaccines will be purchased through the PITC and turned over to the DOH.

“Once that happens, the Department of Health now will put in their budget to pay these 400 million dollars or roughly P20 billion,” the finance chief said.

“We can pay them over 2 or 3 years, so babayaran lang nila with the financing companies which is LandBank and DPB, so kayang-kaya ng DPB at ng LandBank na i-finance itong purchase ng COVID vaccine,” he added.

This way, DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said, the government won’t have to sell properties to finance the purchase of vaccines.

“Kaya po ipinapadaan sa PITC, Philippine International Trade Corporation, dahil para po sila po ang in effect directly na manghihiram mula sa DPB and LandBank,” he said.

“’Yung sinasabi ni Sec. Domiguez, ang may pondo na magpapahiram dito po sa isang government corporation who will execute the importation or the buying ng mga vaccines na ito, para po ang PITC ang magsu-supply sa DOH,” he added.

The vaccines will be administered to the poorest 20 million Filipinos for free.

If each of the 20 million poor Filipinos will need two shots, Dominguez said an estimated P20 billion fund would be needed.

The DTI, however, clarified that this figure is only initial and will be increased based on DOH’s recommendation.

Private companies wanting to secure financing to procure COVID-19 vaccines may do so through the PITC, Secretary Lopez said.

“Maaaring intial po yun dun sa poorest of the poor na communities. Of course, beyond that ang private sector naman po pwede ring makabili padaanin din dito sa PITC para makakuha ng tayo ng volume purchasing o volume discount,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Joan Nano)

Pyongyang disinfects the city after North Korea introduced tougher curbs against coronavirus

UNTV News   •   July 29, 2020

North Korea’s state-run television on Tuesday (July 28) released a video of Pyongyang workers disinfecting the city as the state introduced tougher curbs against the coronavirus, after it locked down the town Kaesong, on the border with the South, to tackle what could be its first publicly confirmed infection.

Strict quarantine measures and the screening of districts were in progress and test kits, protective clothing and medical equipment were being supplied, the North’s KCNA state news agency said.

The measures come after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared an emergency on Sunday (July 26) after a person who defected to South Korea three years ago returned across the highly fortified demilitarised zone (DMZ) to Kaesong this month with symptoms of COVID-19, KCNA reported.

Reclusive North Korea had reported testing 1,211 people for the virus as of July 16 with all returning negative results, the World Health Organisation said in a statement sent to Reuters. The report said 696 nationals were under quarantine. (Reuters)

(Production: Minwoo Park)

Taiwan reports 4 of 5 new COVID-19 cases came from the Philippines

Marje Pelayo   •   July 29, 2020

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) reported on Tuesday (July 28) that it has recorded five new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) among travelers who arrived in the country on Sunday (July 26).

This brings the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Taiwan to 467 since the start of the pandemic early this year. 

Out of 467 positive cases, 21 are imported so far.

Of the five new cases, all took the same flight on July 26, four were from the Philippines and one returned from Hong Kong, according to CECC.

The CECC identified the patients as follows:

  • Male (over 50y/o)
    • He visited the Philippines for work in March. He returned to Taiwan on July 26 with a slightly elevated temperature at the airport. After the test, he was confirmed positive on July 28.
  • Male (over 30y/o)
    • He visited the Philippines for work in January. He noticed abnormality in his sense of smell and taste and sought medical attention in the Philippines on June 16. He took a COVID-19 test the same day, but he tested negative.  He returned to Taiwan on July 26 where he voluntarily reported his previous symptoms to airport quarantine officers who then arranged his COVID-19 testing. His test yielded positive results and was confirmed on July 28.
  • Male/Female (both over 70y/o)
    • A couple in their 70s who traveled to the Philippines to visit their relatives in January. The two cases returned to Taiwan on July 26. The male patient was asymptomatic while the female patient reported her symptoms to airport quarantine officers before boarding and upon entry to Taiwan. After COVID-19 testing was undertaken, they were taken to a quarantine facility. They were confirmed positive on July 28.
  • Male (over 30y/o) 
    • He traveled to Hong Kong for work in January and returned to Taiwan on July 26. He voluntarily reported his symptoms to airport quarantine officers who then arranged his COVID-19 testing and he was confirmed positive on July 28. 

All five cases are currently in isolation in a hospital for medical treatment.

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