The Department of Health (DOH) is planning to recommend to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to suspend the easing of age restrictions for people who can leave their homes amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

As cases of UK’s COVID-19 variant rises: DOH wants IATF to reconsider allowing minors, seniors out of homes

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The Department of Health (DOH) is planning to recommend to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to suspend the easing of age restrictions for people who can leave their homes amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

In a Laging Handa briefing on Saturday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said three out of the 16 new cases of the B.1.1.7 SARS-Cov-2 (United Kingdom) variant of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) reported in the country on Friday night were aged 18 and below.

“Sa ngayon na lumalabas na itong variant ay nandito, amin pong iniisip na baka sakali na makapagrekomenda tayo na maaari muna nating hindi ipagpatupad ito pong paglabas ng mga bata (With the new variant detected in the country, we are thinking of recommending to maybe suspend the easing of age requirement that will allow children to go out), so that we can prevent more infections,” Vergeire said.

However, she added that they will still heed the decision of the IATF-EID regarding the matter.

Vergeire, however, said the DOH gave a positive recommendation to the IATF decision to ease the age requirement that will be allowed to go out to help the country’s economy to recover.

She said DOH supports the IATF in its goal to balance health and the economy amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Kung magdidesisyon man ang IATF na binabalanse natin ang ekonomiya natin at saka ang ating kalusugan, kailangan nating isipin na ang IATF naman ay may mga safeguards na pinapatupad, katulad nga po ng minimum public health standards (If the IATF decides to balance health and economy, we must be assured that they placed proper safeguards such as the minimum public health standards),” she said.

Vergeire said if only all people strictly comply with the imposed minimum public health safety standards, the spread of Covid-19 would be mitigated.

She, however, advised people to stay at home as much as possible in the wake of reports that the UK Covid-19 variant is more contagious.

She said they will discuss the issue in the next IATF meeting.

Vergeire called on parents and adults to ensure that children are protected whenever they would bring them in public places.

“Kung wala naman ho tayo talagang kailangang ipaglabas o hindi naman kailangang talagang dalhin ang bata sa labas, iwasan na po muna natin ito sa ngayon, dahil nga po nakikita natin na medyo tumataas ang ating mga kaso (Let us avoid bringing children out of the house for now especially if we do not need to go out or bring them outside because as we can see, cases are going up) and the variants have been detected already in some parts of the country,” she said.

Beginning February 1, people aged 10 years to 65 years in areas under the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) can leave their homes for non-essential activities, such as going to malls.

The possible easing of age restrictions in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) is up to the local governments. (PNA)

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May parusa ‘pag umayaw! AFP requires soldiers to be vaccinated vs COVID-19

MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday said coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) inoculation is mandatory for all of its personnel but they have the option to choose among vaccine brands other than Sinovac at their own expense.

“Thus, to get inoculated or not is not an option for the members of the AFP, it is a duty. At the most, the exercise of an option will be the option to as to what brand of vaccine they will be availing of, but the cost of which will not be paid by the AFP,” AFP spokesperson, Marine Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said in an online press briefing.

Malacañang earlier announced that the first batch of Sinovac Biotech vaccines composed of 600,000 doses donated by China is set to arrive on Sunday (Feb. 28), with 100,000 doses of which will be given to the Department of National Defense, the AFP’s mother agency.

Aside from military personnel, Arevalo added that their chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana has said that their dependents must be vaccinated.

Meanwhile, those opting for other vaccine brands who decided to forego their inoculation can do so but once they are called to duty to serve as front-liners, they will have no choice but to follow.

“They must perform their duties and task but they will have to resort to the traditional health protocol, mag-mask, mag-shield, maghugas ng kamay at mag-maintain ng social distance pansamantala habang hindi pa sila natuturukan ng vaccine na pinipili nila (like the wearing of mask, face shields, regularly washing their hands, and maintaining social distance while they are yet to be vaccinated with the brand of their choice),” Arevalo said.

Meanwhile, said AFP personnel assigned and performing duties that will expose them to Covid-19 patients are required to have themselves vaccinated with the available vaccines.

He added that the AFP will play three major roles in the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine — security, medical and logistics support operations. (PNA)

Payag ba sa barter? Bello waiting for UK’s response to PH offer to deploy more healthcare workers

MANILA – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is waiting for the response of the United Kingdom (UK) on its proposed provision of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccine amid UK’s request for an exemption from the deployment cap of Filipino healthcare workers (HCWs).

In a telephone interview on Thursday, DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III said they expect the UK government to respond on the issue within 10 days.

“I told them for me to be able to recommend it to the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases), I have to be assured of the safety of our workers. The only way we can be assured about the safety of our OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) is (through) the vaccine,” he said.

Bello said the UK may want to send the coronavirus vaccines so the country can immunize the nurses before they are deployed.

“For us to be able to send our medical workers, we want to ensure that they are safe and their health is secured. We don’t have the vaccine, if they want, they can send us (vaccine),” he added.

Bello said he did not provide specific quantities of the vaccines.

“Why not include all OFWs and not just HCWs. In case they are ready to give us the vaccines, I will give them the number of OFWs that will be vaccinated. I just want to be sure that those who will be deployed have received the vaccine,” he added.

The Philippine government is asking the UK and Germany to provide vaccines against Covid-19 for OFWs as part of the agreement in relation to the deployment of health service workers, particularly nurses.

The country has two bilateral agreements with the UK in 2002 and 2003.

The UK and Germany are seeking to be exempted from the 5,000 cap on the deployment of nurses being implemented by the government to ensure there is an adequate number of nurses in the country in case the need arises.

Meanwhile, Bello said he understands the reaction of the people on the issue.

“They thought I would barter our nurses with the vaccine. I just hope that before they accuse me, they should have asked me first and look at what really happened. They just criticized and what they are saying is not true,” he added. (PNA)

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