Zubiri says confirmatory test yielded negative result for COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   July 28, 2020   •   366

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri on Tuesday said he is free from the live novel coronavirus strain that causes the disease based on the result of his confirmatory test.

In a message to reporters, Zubiri said his PCR-based test conducted by the Philippine Red Cross yielded a negative result.

“Thank you so much for the concern and prayers! I AM NEGATIVE… Thank you to our Lord God above! My confirmatory test with the Philippine Red Cross has come out and shows that I no longer have live RNA cells of Covid-19,” he said.

“What the infectious disease experts  have told us is that the DOH result yesterday possibly detected remnants of dead virus cells which is a common occurrence with recovered Patients,” he added.

The senator on Monday said he took a confirmatory test after his three rapid tests showed his body is possessing anti-bodies, and a swab test yielded positive result.

Zubiri was among the eight senators who had to undergo COVID-19 tests on Sunday as part of the safety protocols for attending President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address in Batasang Pambansa on Monday.

The test result prompted Zubiri to cancel his attendance and opted to monitor the event from home.

The senator said the Red Cross’ PCR machines can detect and differentiate live virus from the remnants of the cells.

“Studies from Europe, Asia and the US have shown that recovered patients with antibodies are no longer infectious and if COVID cells are discovered in their system it is most likely remnants of the dead COVID cells which can no longer contaminate as found in extensive studies in South Korea,” he said.

“Ibig sabihin nito ay hindi na po ito nakakahawa at ligtas po ang recovered patient habang meron pa po siyang Antibodies,” he added.

Zubiri, along with Senators Sonny Angara and Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, contracted COVID-19 in the previous months but they have all since recovered.

Facility-based isolation for asymptomatic, mild COVID-19 cases now mandatory

Marje Pelayo   •   September 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) is now requiring facility-based isolation for confirmed asymptomatic and mild coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases through IATF Resolution 74.

The new policy however, exempts patients who are considered vulnerable or having comorbidities and their home meets the conditions specified in the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Joint Administrative Order 2020-0001. 

Likewise, another exception is when the Ligtas COVID-19 Centers within the region are fully occupied and the local government unit does not have sufficient isolation facilities.

Iloilo City placed under MECQ from Sept. 25 until Oct. 9

Marje Pelayo   •   September 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Iloilo City has been placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) effective September 25 until October 9 due to the increasing number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the city.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque the new measure is based on the issued Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Resolution 74 which also requires facility-based isolation for confirmed asymptomatic and mild COVID-19 cases.

However, the resolution exempts patients who are considered vulnerable or having comorbidities as confirmed by the local health officer.

Another exception would be when the Ligtas COVID-19 Centers within the region are fully occupied and the local government unit does not have sufficient isolation facilities.

On Tuesday (September 22), 33 employees of the Iloilo City Hall tested positive for COVID-19 prompting the three-day temporary closure of the establishment beginning Wednesday (September 23) as declared by Mayor Jerry Treñas in Executive Order No. 215-A.

Prior to that, 13 barangays in the city were placed under total lockdown due to the increase in community transmission of COVID-19.

No more deadline: Hiring of contact tracers to continue until target is reached – DILG

Robie de Guzman   •   September 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Thursday said it will do away with deadlines and instead continue to hire contact tracers until their target of at least 50,000 is reached.

In a statement, DILG spokesperson Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said the agency’s provincial and city field offices will continue to accept applications until the slots allocated to them have been filled up.

The department earlier announced that the submission of applications for contact tracers is only until Sept. 23.

 “What’s important to us is to fill up the slots and recruit the most number of Contact Tracers as provided in the Bayanihan 2 law so those who meet the deadline will immediately be processed but we will continue to accept applications until we have met our targets,” he said.

Malaya said that some 10,000 individuals have already applied in Metro Manila but many have incomplete documents so they are giving more time for them to complete the requirements on a first come, first served basis.

“As soon as they are deemed qualified by the selection board, they will be hired, trained, and deployed to the various LGUs,” he added.

The DILG official said the first batch of DILG-hired contact tracers will be deployed to the local government units by first week of October.

The department earlier said that local and overseas Filipino workers whose service have been recently terminated or their employment contracts were not renewed amid the pandemic will be given priority in the hiring process.

 To qualify, the applicant must have a Bachelor’s degree or college level in an allied medical course or criminology course.

Aspirants must also be skilled in data gathering and have assisted in research and documentation; able to interview COVID-19 cases and close contacts in order to gather data; possess the ability to advocate public health education messages; and have investigative capability.
 
“While our first preference is college graduates or college level of allied medical courses or criminology, we are also open to graduates or college level of any course. So, we urge them to apply and help the country defeat COVID-19,” he said.
Malaya said applicants are required to submit an application letter, Personal Data Sheet, National Bureau of Investigation clearance, diploma or transcript of record, and drug test result to the nearest DILG provincial or city field office.

Contact tracers will earn a minimum of P18,784 per month in a contract of service status.

Their responsibilities include conducting interviews, profiling, and perform an initial public health risk assessment of COVID-19 cases and their identified close contacts; refer the close contacts to isolation facilities; conduct enhanced contact tracing in collaboration with other agencies and private sectors; conduct daily monitoring of close and general contacts for at least 14 days, and perform such other tasks in relation to the COVID response.

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