UN aid chief to G20 nations: ‘step up now or pay the price later’ for COVID

UNTV News   •   July 17, 2020   •   342

Coronavirus support to poor countries has been so far “grossly inadequate and that’s dangerously shortsighted,” U.N. aid chief Mark Lowcock said on Thursday (July 16) as he asked wealthy countries for billions more dollars in assistance.

The United Nations increased its humanitarian appeal by more than a third to $10.3 billion to help 63 states, mainly in Africa and Latin America, tackle the spread and destabilizing effects of the coronavirus. This is up from the world body’s initial $2 billion request in March, then $6.7 billion in May.

So far, Lowcock said, the United Nations has only received $1.7 billion.

“The message to the G20 is step up now or pay the price later,” Lowcock told reporters.

Finance ministers from the Group of 20 major economies will meet virtually on Saturday (July 18).

The coronavirus has infected at least 13.6 million people and there have been more than 584,000 known deaths worldwide, according to a Reuters tally. The United Nations has warned that if action is not taken, the pandemic and associated global recession will trigger an increase in global poverty for the first time since 1990 and push 265 million people to the brink of starvation.

“The response so far of wealthy nations, who’ve rightly thrown out the fiscal and monetary rule books to protect their own people and economies, the response that they’ve made to the situations in other countries has been grossly inadequate and that’s dangerously shortsighted,” Lowcock said.

Lowcock added he had lobbied U.S. lawmakers for funding earlier this week. A House of Representatives committee has proposed $10 billion in international aid. So far, Congress has provided $2.4 billion in emergency foreign aid.

In May, China’s President Xi Jinping pledged $2 billion to help deal with the coronavirus and economic and social development in affected countries, especially developing states.

Lowcock said he would “very much welcome it if some significant proportion of those resources could be used directly to support the global humanitarian response plan.” (Reuters)

(Production: Catherine Koppel)

Gov’t to fast-track COVID-19 vaccine procurement for early vaccine distribution—Palace

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 4, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has issued an executive order to fast-track COVID-19 vaccine procurement for early vaccine distribution, according to Malacañang.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said the President has issued Executive Order (EO) No. 121 granting an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for drugs and vaccines for COVID-19.

Based on the Executive Order, the President will grant the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to provide  Emergency Use Authorization for medicines for the treatment of COVID-19.

“Kung magkakaroon ng emergency use utilization, ang mga rehistrado sa mga foreign FDA na mga bakuna, mapapabilis po ang pag-issue ng authority to use it under EUA to 21 days. Normally po kung wala itong Executive Order na ito it will take as long as six months,” Roque said.

The Palace official added that the EUA will be good for the country as it will pave the way for ending the pandemic and the return to normalcy. AAC

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25 BPO employees tested positive for COVID-19 after holding two parties

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 4, 2020

Twenty-five Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) employees in Subic tested positive for COVID-19 after holding two parties in November.

According to Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Health and Safety Department Dr. Solomon Jacalne, out of the 65 employees of a BPO company that attended the two parties, 25 of them are currently under quarantine.

“Contact tracing indicated that the employees who tested positive of Covid-19 either attended the parties or were exposed to co-workers who went to the said social gatherings,” he said.

Jacalne said the employees attended a beach party in Olonggapo City and a pool party in Zambales. He also said several of the workers did not accurately declare their health condition which might also have contributed to the surge of COVID-19 cases.

SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma said the surge in cases would have been avoided if the employees followed the minimum health protocols.

“This was the lesson some employees of a business process outsourcing company here recently learned the hard way after attending parties that might have served as super-spreading events,” she added.

Eisma said the agency will conduct an investigation on the incident and will implement additional safety measures in work areas of the concerned company. AAC (with reports from Leslie Huidem)

FDA reiterates COVID-19 vaccination non-mandatory

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 4, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reiterated that vaccination will not be mandatory once a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available in the country.

FDA Director General Eric Domingo said the national government will prioritize the poor in the immunization campaign. The government aims to vaccinate 60 million to 70 million Filipinos in order to reach herd immunity against the virus.

Domingo also reminded the public that minimum health standards should still be practiced even after the availability of a vaccine. He also said that the agency, along with the Department of Health (DOH), is already planning the process for the COVID-19 immunization program. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

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