US Gov’t to withdraw visas for foreign students whose classes moved online due to COVID-19

Marje Pelayo   •   July 7, 2020   •   176

USA — The United States (US) Government has made some modifications to its temporary exemptions for foreign or non-immigrant students whose classes will be moved online in the upcoming fall semester.

Under the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), nonimmigrant students were allowed to take more online courses than normally permitted as temporary exemptions for both spring and summer semesters due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in order to maintain their nonimmigrant status.

The new modifications cover Nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online.

They may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States.

The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools or programs that are fully online.

Likewise, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection will not permit them to enter the United States.

Thus, students who are currently enrolled in these programs must depart the country or transfer to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status otherwise, they may face immigration consequences.

Schools, meanwhile, are given 10 days to inform the federal government of the change if they begin the fall semester with in-person classes but are later required to switch to only online classes.

The new policy does not permit nonimmigrant students within the United States to take a full course of study through online classes. 

They must reduce course load to stay otherwise, they must leave the country.

Full list of other modifications here.

QC boosts contact-tracing efforts, deploys additional COVID-19 tracers

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 13, 2020

The Quezon City Local Government has boosted its contact-tracing efforts by opening satellite offices and deploying more contact-tracers.

To intensify the monitoring of suspected, probable, and confirmed cases in barangays, the city opened satellite contact-tracing offices in Districts 3 and 6, while four more satellite offices will be set up.

“Our goal is to stop the virus right in its track. We continuously modify and improve our strategies to make sure we slow the virus transmission within the city,” said Mayor Joy Belmonte.

The local government also formed 90 teams of field and phone contact tracers with additional 300 barangay contact tracers and 30 personnel from the Philippine National Police (PNP). The city’s total number of contact-tracers is around 600. -AAC

FDA approves Chinese drug Lian Hua Qing Wen for mild COVID-19

Maris Federez   •   August 13, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a traditional Chinese drug for the treatment of mild coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

According to the Certificate of Product Registration released by the FDA, Lian Hua Qing Wen “has been found to conform with the requirements and standards for marketing authorization for pharmaceutical products per existing regulations in force as of date hereof.”

Lian Hua Qing Wen, produced by traditional Chinese medicine manufacturer Shijiazhuang Yiling Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., was approved for use in the Philippines last Friday (August 7).

In a statement, the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines said the approval was a welcome development for them as “this marks an important progress in the entry of TCM products into the Philippine market.”

The statement added that the said medicine is an approved COVID-19 treatment for mild and moderate cases in China.

The embassy added that the drug has also been approved in Hong Kong, Macau, Brazil, Indonesia, Canada, Mozambique, Romania, Thailand, Ecuador, Singapore, and Laos.

“It is our sincere hope that its entrance into the Philippine market will contribute to the fight against the spread of COVID-19 in this country and help the patients with mild and moderate symptoms recover,” it added.

The embassy, however, advised consumers to purchase and consume authentic traditional Chinese medicine only.

The Embassy also hopes that “TCM would play a bigger role to support the efforts of the Philippine government and its people to fight against COVID-19 until the final victory.” — /mbmf

Immigration personnel with COVID-19 reach 46, says BI chief

Robie de Guzman   •   August 12, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Wednesday reported that 46 of its employees have tested positive for novel coronavirus disease.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said that of the 46 personnel infected with the virus, nine have already recovered while 37 are still housed in government-accredited quarantine facilities.

Half of those who contracted the virus are currently assigned at the BI main office in Intramuros, Manila while the rest are stationed in other places such as the international airports in Pasay and Cebu, and the bureau’s satellite and extension offices in Metro Manila, and elsewhere nationwide, he added.

“The good news is that, so far, none of our employees have succumbed to the virus,” Morente said in a statement.

He also said that only one of the bureau’s employees with confirmed COVID-19 infection is presently confined and recovering in a hospital.

The BI Chief also said that the bureau had 93 suspected COVID-19 cases among its workers but half of them were already cleared of the virus after undergoing home quarantine.

Morente said the public should not be surprised that some BI employees were infected by the virus.

“We are one of the few government agencies whose personnel render frontline services, not only in our offices, but in the ports of entry as well. It is unavoidable that some of our employees do come in contact or are exposed to persons who are carriers of this virus,” he said.

The bureau earlier announced that it scaled down operations as Metro Manila and other areas reverted to modified enhanced community quarantine.

However, it assured that its online appointment system remains open to foreigners who are scheduled to leave the country during the community quarantine period.

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