WHO launches global research forum against novel coronavirus pneumonia

UNTV News   •   February 12, 2020   •   501

A global research and innovation forum was launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva on Tuesday to mobilize international action in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Co-hosted by the WHO and the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness and funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the forum, which kicked off at 09:00 Geneva time (0800 GMT) on Tuesday, is expected to conclude at the end of Wednesday.

The forum gathers roughly 400 participants, both live and online, including leading scientists from virus-related disciplines around the world, representatives of countries with confirmed novel coronavirus cases and those of public health agencies, ethics experts with related expertise, and representatives of major research donors.

According to the WHO, the forum is to identify the uncharted waters of the virus, prioritize research options and coordinate global efforts to avoid duplication of research, and speed up vaccine and medicine development.

A roadmap for the scientific research against the virus is expected to be released following the forum.

The WHO has said that the forum will focus on nine aspects: patterns of the novel coronavirus, the animal and environment from which the virus originated, an epidemiological investigation on the spread of the virus, clinical treatment, nosocomial infection control, medicine development, candidate vaccines, research ethics, and social science and public health measures in outbreak response.

Chinese representatives from the National Health Commission and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention participated in the forum online, and discussed with other experts on the current situation of China’s epidemic situation and countermeasures.

“Not only on epidemiology of the disease, but also on some of their research that’s already been done in China. So that is very, very useful to have it right at the beginning to know about what’s happening. Even when you look at the WHO clinical trial platform, we can see already that 84 clinical studies are registered there, all led by Chinese scientists. But there’re many other researchers’ studies going on. There’re wonderful infrastructure and capacity in China to do these. So we need to learn from them,” said Soumya Swaminathan, the WHO chief scientist.

Experts say that one of the hot topics is how to establish an effective data and sample sharing mechanism, which the WHO has kept calling for and pushing forward, as surveillance, research and development of effective vaccines and therapeutic drugs are only possible with a strain.

Meanwhile, the WHO said it may also need to coordinate how a strain sharer can participate and share the benefits of future research. So far, China, Japan and Italy have all successfully isolated virus strains from the outbreak and said they would like to share them. (Reuters)

DILG to probe alleged cut in hazard pay of Cainta nurse who died of COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   August 13, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Thursday said it will conduct an investigation into the reported reduction of hazard pay of a health worker at the Cainta Municipal Hospital who recently succumbed to novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

DILG Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said they will ask the Cainta, Rizal government to explain why it reduced the hazard pay of the nurse as part of its probe into the issue.

“Cainta is a first-class municipality so I see no reason why it could not afford to pay the P500/day hazard pay granted to all health workers during this global pandemic,” Malaya said in a statement.

Malaya’s statement comes after the nurse’s daughter posted a message, which has gone viral on social media, lamenting the P7,000 amount they received from the local government instead of the expected P30,000.

The social media post further claimed that the nurse’s hazard pay was reduced to just P64.18 per day and that the hospital administration even failed to properly explain the deductions.

Aside from the issue on hazard pay, Malaya said they will also ask the local government to explain allegations that it supposedly refused to give the medical worker a swab test after she had a close contact with a COVID-19 patient.

He assured that the DILG and the Department of Health will work together to ensure that the family of the medical frontline worker will receive the P1 million compensation for health workers who died in the line of duty as mandated under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

“We will ensure that her family receives all the benefits provided under the law. This is the least we can do to honor her service to the Municipality of Cainta where she worked in its LGU-run public hospital for more than 10 years – the first 4 years of those without any salary,” Malaya said.

“We have to take care of our health workers because they are the ones who take care of us. Without them, we lose the war against COVID-19. Therefore, we will investigate and determine who should be held accountable,” he added.

Duterte to announce new community quarantine status on August 17 – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   August 13, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to address the nation on August 17, Monday, to announce fresh community quarantine restrictions to be implemented in the country, Malacañang said Thursday.

The two-week modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) over Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite, and Laguna will lapse on August 18.

“Inaasahan po natin na magmemensahe sa taumbayan muli ang ating Presidente sa Aug. 17 kung saan iaanunsyo din niya ‘yung bagong classifications,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.

Roque earlier said it is unlikely that the MECQ will be extended because the country’s economy can no longer afford to undergo strict lockdown.

He said recommendations for all other provinces and cities for quarantine classifications have already been submitted for the president’s approval.

As of Wednesday, the Philippines has recorded 147,526 confirmed coronavirus infections, of which 74,713 are active.

The number of reported recoveries also rose to 70,387 while the death toll is at 2,426. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Pasig City launches free COVID-19 antibody testing for Pasigueños

Marje Pelayo   •   August 13, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The city government of Pasig City has launched its free antibody testing for Pasigueños to immediately address potential cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

According to Mayor Vico Sotto, a total of 300 slots will be opened to Pasig constituents under the Enhanced Chemiluminescence Immunoassay (ECLIA) test that will kickstart on Friday (August 14).

The Mayor, however, stressed that Pasig residents need to reserve a slot before proceeding to the testing center as they will not accommodate walk-ins and also to maintain physical distance.

The program is on a first come, first served basis. 

Those interested should first call the testing center hotline 0928-2911716 or 0928-2911717.

Sotto said if the launching on Friday goes smoothly, the city government may conduct such on a regular basis. 


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