WHO urges countries to use “second window of opportunity” to stop COVID-19 transmission

UNTV News   •   March 26, 2020   •   214

The chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday urged all countries to use the “second window of opportunity” to suppress and stop the transmission of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

This window of opportunity was created by those countries and regions which introduced unprecedented “lockdown” measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted at a daily briefing, reminding that these measures will not extinguish epidemics on their own.

“Asking people to stay at home and shutting down population movement is buying time and reducing the pressure on health systems, but on their own, these measures will not extinguish epidemics. The point of these actions is to enable the more precise and targeted measures that are needed to stop transmission and save lives. We call on all countries who have introduced so-called lockdown measures to use this time to attack the virus,” he said.

Tedros recommended six key actions to enable the more precise and targeted measures.

Specifically, he called on countries to expand, train and deploy health care and public health workforce, implement a system to find every suspected case at community level, and ramp up the production, capacity, and availability of testing equipment.

He also suggested identifying, adapting and equipping facilities for treating and isolating patients, developing a clear plan and process to quarantine contacts, as well as refocusing the whole of government on suppressing and controlling COVID-19.

“We have been saying for more than two months now this virus is public enemy number one. It’s a dangerous virus, and we have been saying to the world that the window of opportunity is narrowing and the time to act was actually more than a month ago or two months ago. But we still believe that there is an opportunity. I think we squandered the first window of opportunity but we are saying today my message, I made it clear that this is a second opportunity which we should not squander,” said Tedros.

The WHO situation dashboard showed a total of 416,686 cases of COVID-19 were reported worldwide as of 18:00 CET (1700 GMT) Wednesday, as the virus spread to 196 countries and regions.

The global death toll from COVID-19 has climbed to 18,589.

Outside China, the number of confirmed cases has risen to 334,817, among which over 190,000 cases were reported by the four most affected countries with over 30,000 cases each — Italy, the United States, Spain, and Germany. (Reuters)

Gov’t mulls emergency subsidy for middle class families

Marje Pelayo   •   April 8, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Economic managers are looking for potential sources of funds to help the middle-class families amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the national government may extend support to the middle-class sector but not under the Social Amelioration Program or the cash aid intended for low-income families or the informal sector.

Nograles explained that the list of beneficiaries of the emergency subsidy program was derived from the 15 million poor families identified by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

The government added three million families from the informal sector to complete the 18 million target beneficiaries of SAP under the newly signed Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

“Naglagay po tayo ng contingency dahil hindi naman malilimitahan sa 15 million (families) iyan (na base sa) 2015 census. Ang ginawa, nagdagdag pa sila ng three million, [We applied a contingency because we couldn’t limit it to 15 million families that was based on the 2015 census. What they did was they added 3-M,]” the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) Spokesperson explained.

Based on the current statistics, the Philippines has about 24 million families.

Minus 18 million families, Nograles said, there will be about 6 million middle class families that will be provided with additional cash subsidy.

“We have to define who the middle class is [and up to what extent is being a] middle class,” the official added.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III suggests a collaboration of records from the DSWD, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE); and the local government units.

“Government assistance should cover ALL those who are affected by the lockdown,” Sotto said in a statement.

Even the middle-income needs help. Nawalan din naman sila ng pagkakitaan, nabawasan din ang kanilang source of income, [They, too, lost their source of livelihood. Their source of income has also been affected],” he added.

Sotto pushed anew for the national ID system which would provide a database that is seen to solve the government’s problem with accounting the exact number of Filipino families.

Though the IATF-EID agrees with Sotto on the matter, the agency said it would be difficult to process a national ID given the current national crisis. MNP (with details from Harlene Delgado)

Cooperation, proper execution of gov’t health interventions: Keys to stopping COVID-19 infections — Expert

Marje Pelayo   •   April 8, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Experts estimate that coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak would reach its peak between the months of April and June this year.

Based on the current statistics, they believe that COVID-19 might infect about 600,000 to 1 million Filipinos if the public will not heed the enhanced community quarantine protocols.

But there are ways to curb the contagion, according to Chief Special Adviser Dr. Ted Herbosa of the Task Force on COVID-19 Crisis.

One of which is the proper execution of the national government’s health interventions.

Herbosa said the Task Force is recommending a ‘gradual lifting of liberties of societies.’

This public measure would help communities recover from the crisis while protecting the public from further infection.

“Siguro wala pa ring pasok para hindi magkahawaan ang mga bata. Siguro ang magkaka- trabaho lang iyong essential industries – pagkain, tubig – iyong mga importanteng industry,” Herbosa explained.

[Perhaps schools should remain suspended to protect students from infection. Only workers of essential industries – food, water or other important industries – would be allowed.]

Unti-unti nilang ire-release para hindi sisipa ang pagkalat kapag ibinalik mo agad mass transport ng walang adjustment. Siguro ang mangyayari diyan let’s say sa MRT, LRT limitado ang sasakay,” he added.

[Mass transport may be released gradually or on certain adjustments to prevent a sudden spike in infection. It could be, let’s say, limited number of MRT and LRT passengers.]

The official recognized the positive contribution of the enhanced community quarantine in slowing down the spread of COVID-19.

But the success of the national government’s action against the deadly disease will only be possible if each member of the community will understand the measures and cooperate with authorities. MNP (with details from Aiko Miguel)

UK PM Johnson ‘stable’ in intensive care – Raab

UNTV News   •   April 8, 2020

British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said on Tuesday (April 7) he was confident that Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in intensive care with a coronavirus infection, would pull through because “he’s a fighter”.

“He remained stable overnight. He’s receiving standard oxygen treatment and breathing without any assistance. He has not required any mechanical ventilation or non-invasive respiratory support,” Raab told a daily news conference.

Johnson’s personal battle with the virus has shaken the government just as the United Kingdom, now in its third week of virtual lockdown, enters what scientists say will be the deadliest phase of its coronavirus epidemic, which has already killed at least 6,159 people.

Johnson, 55, was admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital, across the River Thames from parliament, late on Sunday after suffering symptoms, including a fever and a cough, for more than 10 days.

But his condition rapidly deteriorated, and he was moved on Monday to an intensive care unit, where the most serious cases are treated, in case he needed to be put on a ventilator.

“He remains in good spirits and … his progress continues to be monitored in critical care,” Raab said. (Reuters)

(Production: Paul Warren, Aiden Nulty)

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