WHO acknowledges ‘evidence emerging’ of airborne spread of COVID-19

UNTV News   •   July 8, 2020   •   607

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday (July 7) acknowledged “evidence emerging” of the airborne spread of the novel coronavirus, after a group of scientists urged the global body to update its guidance on how the respiratory disease passes between people.

“We have been talking about the possibility of airborne transmission and aerosol transmission as one of the modes of transmission of COVID-19,” Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead on the COVID-19 pandemic at the WHO, told a news briefing.

The WHO has previously said the virus that causes the COVID-19 respiratory disease spreads primarily through small droplets expelled from the nose and mouth of an infected person that quickly sink to the ground.

But in an open letter to the Geneva-based agency, published on Monday (July 6) in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal, 239 scientists in 32 countries outlined evidence that they say shows floating virus particles can infect people who breathe them in.

Because those smaller exhaled particles can linger in the air, the scientists are urging WHO to update its guidance.

Speaking at Tuesday’s briefing in Geneva, Benedetta Allegranzi, the WHO’s technical lead for infection prevention and control, said there was evidence emerging of airborne transmission of the coronavirus, but that it was not definitive.

Any change in the WHO’s assessment of risk of transmission could affect its current advice on keeping 1-metre (3.3 feet) of physical distancing. Governments, which rely on the agency for guidance policy, may also have to adjust public health measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.

Van Kerkhove said the WHO would publish a scientific brief summarising the state of knowledge on modes of transmission of the virus in the coming days.

“A comprehensive package of interventions is required to be able to stop transmission,” she said.

“This includes not only physical distancing, it includes the use of masks where appropriate in certain settings, specifically where you can’t do physical distancing and especially for healthcare workers.” (Reuters)

(Production: Louisa Naks)

Provincial buses sa PITX, hindi bumiyahe sa kabila ng pagbubukas ng mga ruta

Robie de Guzman   •   September 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Hindi pumasada ang ilang provincial bus units na naka-terminal sa Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX) kahit binuksan na ng Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) ang 12 ruta para sa mga pampasaherong bus.

Ayon sa Provincial Bus Operators Association, nakikipag-pulong pa sila sa LTFRB at sa terminal operators dahil sa anila’y hindi pa malinaw na sistema, partikular na sa bayan ng Sta. Cruz, Laguna.

Ayon kay Alex Yague, ang pinuno ng grupo, nagbago ng mga kondisyon ang lokal na pamahalaan ng Sta. Cruz hinggil sa pagbiyahe ng mga pampasaherong bus kaya’t kailangan pa itong muling pag-usapan, partikular na ang isyu sa hatian ng 150 pasahero na papayagang pumasok sa loob ng isang araw.

Nais ring klaruhin ng provincial bus operators ang pag-oobliga sa kanilang mga unit na dumaan sa Skyway at NAIA Expressway upang makarating sa PITX.

Ayon kay Yague, panibagong gastusin ito para sa mga operator gayong limitado lang ang maaari nilang isakay na pasahero.

“As of today, hindi pa handa. Kapag na-klaro na yung tungkol sa pasahero, yung requirements ng travel pass at magkakaroon ng unawaan sa Central termjnal management within the next fee day, ma-iron out natin ang problema,” ang wika ni Yague.

Sa panig naman ng PITX, tiniyak ng pamunuan nito na handa ang terminal sakaling bumiyahe na ang provincial buses.

“Kami po ay handa, ready po kami tumanggap ngunit nakikipag-ugnayan pa rin tayo dito sa mga bus operators upang siguraduhin kung ano yung mga kinakailangan sa pagbiyahe dito,” ang pahayag ni Jayson Salvador, ang manager ng PITX.

Sinabi rin ni Salvador na makikipag-ugnayan sila sa National Capital Region Police Office para sa pagtatalaga ng mga pulis sa terminal para sa mas madaling proseso ng pagkuha ng travel pass ng mga pasahero. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Joan Nano)

PUV drivers, establishment workers and vendors in Manila to get free swab testing

Robie de Guzman   •   September 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers, market vendors and employees of various establishments in the Philippine capital will be provided with free RT-PCR tests, the Manila City government said Wednesday.

In a statement, the city’s public information office said Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso issued the order which will cover employees of malls, hotels, restaurants and supermarkets, and vendors in public markets as well as drivers of e-trikes, pedicabs, tricycles, jeepneys and buses operating in the city.

Under Domagoso’s Executive Order No. 39, the Manila Health Department was tasked to provide free swab tests to said workers.

The order follows the launch of Sta. Ana Hospital’s second molecular laboratory, which has the capacity to process around 1,000 tests daily. The additional laboratory will raise the hospital’s test processing capacity to 30,000 a month.

“The real threat of COVID-19 will continue to persist in our community, thereby sending fear to every person of getting infected with it. This fear will affect not only the individual preferences and behavior or every person, but also the economic growth (of the city),” Domagoso said.

“In order to allay the fear of getting infected with COVID-19, there is a need to assure the public that employees of these frequently visited establishments are COVID-19 free and thus spur economic activities,” he added.

Mayor Isko also directed the Manila Bureau of Permits and Licensing Office, the Department of Tourism, Culture and Arts of Manila, and the Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau to “require establishments under their jurisdiction to require filling up mandatory health declaration forms for contact tracing purposes.”

Quezon City mayor cancels city hall parties, to donate funds

Robie de Guzman   •   September 29, 2020

Parties for all offices under the Quezon City government during the holidays will no longer be held this year amid the continuing novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said Tuesday.

A statement released on Tuesday said Belmonte has issued a memorandum directing all offices under the city hall to cancel parties scheduled in December and instead ordered them to donate the funds to underprivileged groups.

“The money that would have been spent on office Christmas parties would do more good as donations to the underprivileged during this extraordinarily difficult time in our nation’s history,” Belmonte said in a statement.

The local chief executive stressed that “it would be inappropriate for offices of the city government to hold customary Christmas parties while many of its citizens are experiencing hardships due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.”

Instead of holding parties, she urged city hall employees to adopt an underprivileged sector— such as the urban poor, displaced workers, jeepney drivers, street vendors, indigent children, and poor senior citizens— and to modestly celebrate the season in their homes.

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