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

UNTV News   •   July 8, 2020   •   466

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)

Over 120K repatriated OFWs return to their provinces

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 5, 2020

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Tuesday (August 4) reported that more than 120,000 repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFW) are now back in their respective provinces.

DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that according to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administratio (OWWA), the department has assisted and sent home 122,369 OFWs since May.

“We will not get tired of assisting our returning OFWs, and facilitate their transport to the provinces and be with their families. This is just a small way to repay their enormous contribution to our country,” Bello said.

The labor chief also said that the labor department has almost exhausted the P2.5-billion AKAP assistance fund being extended to both on-site and repatriated OFWs affected by the pandemic. AAC

Filipinos abroad with COVID-19 now at 9,607 – DFA

Robie de Guzman   •   August 4, 2020

The number of Filipinos overseas who have contracted novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has increased to 9,607 with 10 new infections, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Tuesday.

In its latest bulletin, the DFA said 28 more Filipinos have recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recovered patients to 5,681.

The death toll remained at 693, it added.

“As we continue to battle against this pandemic, the DFA rallies the Filipinos here and abroad to cooperate and responsibly adhere to precautionary measures of the local health authorities of the respective countries in which they reside,” the department said in a statement.

The DFA also reported that 3,233 are undergoing treatment.

Of this number, 254 are in the Asia Pacific Region, 512 in Europe, 2,327 in the Middle East and Africa, and 140 in the Americas, it added.

Mandaluyong LGU puts city under special concern lockdown

Maris Federez   •   August 4, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The local government of Mandaluyong has put all barangays in the city under special concern lockdown amid the implementation of the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in Metro Manila.

Eleven barangays in the city are classified as areas of special concern by the local government due to high cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

But with the reversion of the National Capital Region (NCR) to MECQ on Tuesday (Aug. 4), the Mandaluyong government decided to put the whole city on special concern lockdown.

Mandaluyong’s Executive Order (EO) No 24 stated that under special concern lockdown, stricter curfew measures will be implemented from 8:00 PM to 5:00 AM.

Only individuals classified as Authorized Persons Outside of Residence (APOR) will be allowed to go out.

The city government is also mulling over applying the previous MECQ guidelines anew, such as on scheduling market days in every barangay.

With the start of the curfew on Tuesday night, the local government advises those who work on graveyard shifts to secure a work pass from their employers.  

“Yung mga work passes kasi ang requirements lang naman niyan per barangay is to ahow to the barangay their ano certificate of employment. para atleast kahit papaano, makapasok sila sa trabaho nila,” said Jimmy Isidro, the Mandaluyong City government chief of staff.

The city government is also considering enforcing liquor ban in the area anew during the MECQ.

Employees at the Mandaluyong City Hall are also on a skeleton workforce to receive documents and transactions as business in the city is open as usual. — (with details from Vincent Arboleda) /mbmf

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