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

UNTV News   •   March 26, 2020   •   424

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)

23 out of 163 potential COVID-19 vaccines under clinical trial—FDA

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 16, 2020

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said 23 out of 163 potential vaccines for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are currently under clinical testing stage.

According to FDA Director General Eric Domingo, two potential COVID-19 vaccines will be given to a larger group of people to see if it is effective and to further evaluate its safety.

The said vaccines are Astrazeneca, currently being developed in London, and Sinovac that is being developed in China.

Department of Health (DOH) Spokesperson Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire said that the anti-flu drug Favipiravir or Avigan, from Japan is also nearing clinical trials.

“We are fortunate that the Japanese have reached out to us to help increase the sample size of their Avigan drug trial, a potential treatment to prevent people dying from COVID-19,” she said.

Meanwhile, the FDA has confirmed that another potential vaccine is being developed in Russia. Domingo said it is currently in the advanced phase.

“Ginagamit na rin siya sa clinical trial ng ibang bansa mayroon din sa Japan, China, United States, Italy at Russia, (It is currently under clinical trial in other countries like Japan, China, United States, and Russia),” he said.

The medicine for Ebola Virus, Remdesivir, is currently under solidarity trial. Remdesivir is being used in other countries to treat severe COVID-19 patients. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Davao City eyes new protocols for returning residents, Davao-bound travelers

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 16, 2020

The Davao City Government will be enforcing new protocols for returning residents, including Davao-bound passengers to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the city.

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte said they have begun implementing the COVID-19 ‘Test and Wait’ mechanism for returning Davao City residents, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), and the locally stranded individuals (LSIs).

“It means that we test them and let them wait in a holding area. When the results come out, they can go home for home quarantine,” she said.

Meanwhile, Duterte has requested the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to require all Davao City-bound passengers to submit a negative RT-PCR test taken within 48 hours of the departure date.

The Davao International Airport (DIA) resumed operations last June 8 and has been receiving OFWs, LSIs, and commercial flight passengers since it reopened.

The Davao mayor already raised concerns over the increasing cases of COVID-19. Based on reports, many of the cases are returning individuals from Manila. AAC

Duque clarifies: PH ‘bent’ COVID-19 curve, not ‘flattened’

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 16, 2020

After announcing that the government has successfully flattened the curve of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in April, Department of Health (DOH) Secretary clarified that the COVID-19 cases in April has been ‘bent’.

Duque received backlash after his statement on Wednesday (July 16). He later clarified his statement on his Twitter account.

“This means we bent the curve in April after the March Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ),” he said.

The DOH official, meanwhile, admitted there is an increase in COVID-19 cases in the country because of community transmission prompted by the easing of community quarantine restrictions. The government also has expanded its testing capacity which added to the increased number of cases.

He also said it is important to maintain the number of cases at a manageable level to avoid overwhelming health workers. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

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