Those in Metro Manila don’t need to wear N95 masks says DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   January 14, 2020   •   408

MANILA, Philippines – People living in Metro Manila don’t really need to buy, wear – or hoard – N95 face masks amid the eruption of Taal Volcano, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Tuesday.  

The DOH made the clarification following the increase in the prices and demand for N95 mask and other similar protective gear after Taal ashfall reached parts of Metro Manila and Central Luzon.

“Pero dito po sa mga areas like Metro Manila, Region 3, yung mga areas po na nasabugan nga po ng ashfall, puwede naman po tayong gumamit ng not necessarily ng N95, but we can use the regular surgical mask,” Health Assistant Secretary Maria Francia Laxamana said in a press briefing.

She also called on traders and the public to reserve available supplies of N95 face masks to people that need it the most, particularly those evacuated from the Taal Volcano 14-kilometer danger zone.

“Huwag na muna tayong gumamit ng N95 mask dito sa Metro manila, ibigay na po muna natin sa ating mga kababayan sa areas ng Batangas at Cavite,” she said.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday warned retailers taking advantage of the demand for face masks amid the eruption of Taal volcano.

“Kasi itong mga negosyante if the demand is high then magkakaroon tayo ng medyo magkulang, then the prices go up. Or the worst thing that they can do if they have enough supplies and yet they are selling it at prohibitive prices already. So I’m setting the limit,” Duterte said.

“Mura na man ‘yan, bakit…? Do not hoard it. ‘Pag itinago ninyo then I will be forced to order na pasukin ka,” he warned.

For people who cannot buy or get their hands on N95 face masks, the DOH said they may use alternatives to protect themselves from the dangers of volcanic ash.

They may use old t-shirts, cloth, bandana or wet strips of cloth to cover their nose and mouth to avoid inhalation of fine dust particles.

“Pinaka-critical lang po and very basic yung something moist, para yung ashfall mababara niya yung pagpasok ng ashfall, yung ingestion through the nose and through the mouth,” Laxamana said.

The DOH earlier warned the public of the hazards of Taal Volcano’s steam-driven explosion on Sunday, saying that exposure to volcanic ash can cause nose and throat irritation, coughing, bronchitis-like illness, discomfort while breathing, eye irritation and minor skin problems.

The department also advised the public to stay indoors, minimize exposure to ash and use dust masks.

The DOH, meanwhile, advised residents in Quezon and Laguna areas to prepare for possible ashfall from Taal Volcano as the wind direction is seen to shift in the following days. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Pinoy crew, passengers of Diamond Princess all want to go home —DOH

Maris Federez   •   February 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — All the Filipino crew and passengers of the Diamond Princess cruise ship that is moored in Japan who tested negative for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have signified their desire to return home to the Philippines, according to the Department of Health (DOH).

495 Filipinos are still on the cruise ship even as the two-week quarantine period has passed.

The 43 Filipinos who tested positive for the virus are still admitted in the hospital.

“So even those that had earlier indicated that they would want to stay behind there has been a change of heart by almost all of them,” DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said.

Duque said two chartered planes will be used in repatriating the Pinoy crew and passengers who have voluntarily signified their willingness to return to the Philippines.

The DOH official also said they are not discounting any possibility that some of them will still have a change of heart on the very day of their departure.

“They cannot be sure until iyong magbo-board na because siyempre may mga nagde-decide diyan. Iyong iba they might want to stay behind, others might have second thoughts. Iyong dating ayaw gusto na ngayon. So, let’s just have an indicative number of 500,” Duque said.

The DOH, however, clarified that once any of these Filipinos show any symptoms of COVID-19 before the scheduled repatriation will be automatically deleted from the list and will remain in Japan for treatment.

Those asymptomatic will still undergo the 14-day mandatory quarantine upon arrival to the Philippines. — (from the report of Dante Amento) /mbmf

UNTV Cup players to join Wish Olympics

UNTV News   •   February 21, 2020

Julius Casaysayan of Agriculture Food Masters

MANILA, Philippines — Players from UNTV Cup – the Liga of Public Servants – are set to join the Wish Olympics, a charity sports and entertainment event for the benefit of the victims of the Taal Volcano eruption.

Among the players are PNP Responders’ Mariano “Neil Perez” Flormata Jr. and Anton Tolentino, Julius Casaysayan of Agriculture Food Masters, Rod William Vasallo of PITC Global Traders and Carlo Gonzalez of GSIS Furies.

PBA Legends and UNTV Cup Commissioners Atoy Co and Ed Cordero, as well as PBA Legends Allan Caidic, Johnny Abarrientos, Jayjay Helterbrand, Chris Calaguio, and Willie Miller, will also be gracing the event and extend their support.

Spearheaded by Wish 107.5 innovator and public service advocate, Kuya Daniel Razon, Wish Olympics will be held on February 23, 2020, at Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

Rod William Vasallo of PITC Global Traders

It is aimed at extending more charity works to the people of Batangas, Cavite, and Laguna who have been severely affected by the explosion of the Taal Volcano.

Since the first week of the calamity, UNTV and the Members Church of God International, together with local and national government agencies have been carrying out medical missions and relief efforts for the victims.

Razon said he realizes the enormity of the eruption’s aftermath and that it will take months before the evacuees could carry on again with their normal lives.

This, he said, prompted him to think of ways to better extend assistance to the victims, and such is by way of the said sports and entertainment event.

PNP Responders’ Mariano “Neil Perez” Flormata Jr.

It will be participated in by artists like Morisette, Imago, Clara Benin, Jayda, The Juans, The Wishfuls, Rhea Basco, Mark Herras, JayR, Rayver Cruz, Ejay Falcon, Young JV, Jordan Herrera, Adrian Alandy, James Blanco, Albie Casino, Gerhard Acao and Axel Torres.

Professional volleyball players and TV/movie personalities such as Gretchen Ho, Kathy Bersola, Claudia Barretto, Gwen Zamora, Roma Joy Doromal, Che Sindayen, Jem Ferrer, Patcharee Saengmuang, Sandy Delos Santos, Aya Fernandez, Casey Da Silva, Ana Gopico, Amanda Villanueva, Nicole Tiamzon, Heather Guino-o, and Erika Alkuino will also team up for a friendly volleyball match.

Filipinos from Wuhan ‘all well and safe’, cleared to go home after quarantine – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   February 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos repatriated from Wuhan City in China are now allowed to go home as they showed no signs and symptoms of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) after their 14-day quarantine period, the Department of Health (DOH) said Friday.

In a statement, the DOH said the 30 Filipinos and 19 others who returned from Wuhan – the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak – will be released after they manifested no signs of fever, cough, or sore throat during their 14-day stay at the quarantine facility in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac.

A send-off ceremony will be held on February 22, Saturday to mark the completion of their mandatory quarantine, the department said.

“We are glad that our repatriates are all well and safe from COVID-19. Our repatriation mission is not possible without the dedication and cooperation of the entire Interagency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases with all its member agencies,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.

“We are extremely grateful for the collective effort of the government,” he added.

The DOH, meanwhile, revealed that another batch of Filipinos is set to be quarantined in the facility following their arrival this weekend.

This batch is composed of about 460 to 480 Filipinos from the virus-hit M/V Diamond Princess cruise ship who availed of the government’s repatriation program.

The health department said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has already adopted a repatriation plan for the return of the Filipinos from Yokohama, Japan.

They are also coordinating with the World Health Organization, the Philippine Embassy in Japan and the Magsaysay Maritime Corporation for the repatriation process.

Under the repatriation plan, the DOH shall provide health human resources and transportation to the quarantine site, on-site medical needs of the repatriates, hospitalization expenses through Philhealth, and personal protective equipment (PPE) for the first five days of the quarantine period.

Magsaysay Maritime Corporation will bear the cost of transportation expenses, food, lodging, personal hygiene kits and disinfectants, and other expenses.

The Department of Transportation will shoulder the transportation of repatriates from Haribon hangar in Pampanga to New Clark City, while the OWWA will provide livelihood packages to the repatriates, and their transportation from Manila to their respective destinations after the quarantine period.

“We would like to assure Filipinos abroad that our government is working tirelessly to ensure that no Filipino gets left behind in our fight against COVID-19. DOH and the Philippine government are prepared to undertake all measures to care for our kababayans, no matter where they are,” Duque said.

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