Zamboanga City conducts contact tracing, stricter quarantine as it records first COVID-19 case

Robie de Guzman   •   March 25, 2020   •   950

ZAMBOANGA CITY – The city government of Zamboanga said it has started tracing all people who have had contact with its first case of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Mayor Beng Climaco-Salazar made the announcement on Monday night after confirming the city’s first case – a 29-year old male resident of Sinunuc in Zamboanga City.

“As of 8pm tonight, the city of Zamboanga has recorded its first COVID-19 case, based on the result and test conducted by the health agencies, the Department of Health,” she said.

Salazar added that the patient had traveled from Metro Manila via Philippine Airlines flight PR 2993, and arrived in the city on March 13.

He experienced fever and chills – which are among the coronavirus symptoms – two days later.

On March 16, he consulted a local private hospital and was considered a person under investigation due to his travel history.

He underwent testing the same day, and his swab specimen was sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) on March 17.

His test result came out positive for COVID-19 on March 24.

According to City Health Officer Dr. Dulce Miravite, the patient is in stable condition and had only manifested mild symptoms.

Miravite added that the patient has been under strict home quarantine.

“Na-monitor natin sa barangay, and minomonitor natin to siya everyday. So far, ang symptoms niya ay improving,” she said.

Salazar said they are now implementing stricter containment measures, especially in the village where the patient is residing, to stop the spread of the virus.

The mayor warned penalties against residents who will disobey the home quarantine and social distancing measures against COVID-19.

To date, the city has reported 31 patients under investigation but 17 of them have tested negative for coronavirus. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Val Villaflor)

Immigration personnel with COVID-19 reach 46, says BI chief

Robie de Guzman   •   August 12, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Wednesday reported that 46 of its employees have tested positive for novel coronavirus disease.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said that of the 46 personnel infected with the virus, nine have already recovered while 37 are still housed in government-accredited quarantine facilities.

Half of those who contracted the virus are currently assigned at the BI main office in Intramuros, Manila while the rest are stationed in other places such as the international airports in Pasay and Cebu, and the bureau’s satellite and extension offices in Metro Manila, and elsewhere nationwide, he added.

“The good news is that, so far, none of our employees have succumbed to the virus,” Morente said in a statement.

He also said that only one of the bureau’s employees with confirmed COVID-19 infection is presently confined and recovering in a hospital.

The BI Chief also said that the bureau had 93 suspected COVID-19 cases among its workers but half of them were already cleared of the virus after undergoing home quarantine.

Morente said the public should not be surprised that some BI employees were infected by the virus.

“We are one of the few government agencies whose personnel render frontline services, not only in our offices, but in the ports of entry as well. It is unavoidable that some of our employees do come in contact or are exposed to persons who are carriers of this virus,” he said.

The bureau earlier announced that it scaled down operations as Metro Manila and other areas reverted to modified enhanced community quarantine.

However, it assured that its online appointment system remains open to foreigners who are scheduled to leave the country during the community quarantine period.

Business owners in Manila reminded to sell face shields at a fair price

Robie de Guzman   •   August 12, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Manila City government has reminded business owners in the city not to take advantage of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic by selling essential goods and other products at higher prices.

The city’s bureau of permits issued the reminder on Tuesday following reports that some business owners are selling face shields at P100 a piece.

“I don’t think this is the time to take advantage of our public,” Manila’s Bureau of Permits Director Levi Facundo said in a statement.

“Nasa panahon po tayo ng pandemya, maraming nahihirapan. Alam kong apektado rin ang negosyo, pero apektado rin ang mamimili natin dahil sila’y nawalan rin ng trabaho, ng hanap-buhay,” he added.

While the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has not yet released an official suggested retail price (SRP) for face shields, Facundo said that its price should not go beyond P25.

He assured that once an official SRP has been set for face shields, the local government will strictly monitor the pricing of all businesses in the nation’s capital and warned to go after businesses that will be selling the item above its price cap.

He also advised consumers to take extra precaution in buying medical equipment online as they may be scammed.

“If you feel na ang isang nagbebenta ay hindi legit o kaya hindi nag-o-overprice, let us know. We will coordinate with DTI, we will send them show cause order, and pagpapaliwanagin natin,” Facundo said.

Healthcare workers involved in selling of blood plasma will face sanctions — DOH

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 11, 2020

Health workers will face sanctions if it is proven that they are involved in the sale of convalescent plasma of COVID-19 survivors, the Department of Health (DOH) warned.

Investigation of the Health Department showed several hospital staff in Cebu City are involved in the illegal trade of blood plasma. The DOH said there are only four facilities authorized to collect plasma from COVID-19 survivors: The Philippine Blood Center, Philippine Red Cross in Port Area, St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig and Quezon City, and UP-PGH in Manila.

Based on the DOH Administrative Order No. 36 Section 46, a medical professional proven to be involved in illegal activities could have his or her license revoked.

“Recommendation to revoke the certificate of registration or to suspend said certificate to practice the profession and to invalidate the professional license of any health professional involved in misrepresentation of facts or falsification of documents or records especially medical, laboratory or inspection results and certificates, or in violation of R.A. No. 7719 and the herein Rules, by the Professional Regulation Commission upon recommendation of the Secretary,” according to the administrative order.

DOH Spokesperson Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire reminds the public that buying plasma from unauthorized individuals is dangerous due to lack of proper screening by health professionals.

“Maraming sakit pa na nata-transmit if we sell our blood lalo na iyon mga hindi na screen (There are a lot of diseases that can be transmitted if we sell our blood, especially when it is not screened),” she said. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

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