The national government has decided to extend the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to fully assess the impact of lockdown in containing the spread of the new coronavirus, according to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.

Too early to tell if COVID-19 curve is getting flat: Nograles justifies Luzon-wide lockdown extension

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By Prince Golez

The national government has decided to extend the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to fully assess the impact of lockdown in containing the spread of the new coronavirus, according to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.

In a virtual news conference Tuesday, Nograles said that President Rodrigo Duterte approved Monday the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the coronavirus pandemic (IATF) to extend the Luzon-wide quarantine for another two weeks to prevent further transmission.

The quarantine extension also aims to strengthen the country’s capacity to tackle the viral disease that has infected 3,660 individuals as of yesterday, he added.

“Yung totoong nagkaroon talaga ng ECQ, yung full ECQ natin, ay nangyari talaga nung March 15. Dun mo talaga naramdaman at nakita yung effect ng implementation ng ECQ. Base sa siyensa at agham, and the way we understand the virus, yung sintomas ay maaaring lumabas between five and 14 days from the time of your infection. So, sagarin na natin ng 14 days yan, ibig sabihin kung tayo ay nag ECQ ng March 15 kailan natin makikita ang earliest effect ng ECQ? March 15 plus 14 days equals March 29,” the IATF spokesperson explained.

“Base sa ating epidemiologists, mga scientists, mga mathematicians, at mga eksperto, March 29 lang natin makikita yung earliest effect ng ating ECQ, para malaman talaga natin kung tama ang ginawa natin, kung ano ang naging effect ng ECQ dito sa Luzon. Base din sa ating mga experts, ang most likely na makita natin na mas klaro ang naging effect ng ECQ most likely makikita natin ng mid-April.

“You need to give us at least mid-April to study the effect of the ECQ, yun ang sinasabi ng ating mga eksperto. Kaya humihingi tayo ng extension up to April 30 para, unang-una, ma-measure talaga nating kung ano yung full effect ng ECQ. Pangalawa, para ma-increase pa natin lalo yung health capacity ng Luzon at ng buong bansa. Yun po ang reason natin,” he said.

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POLITIKO / Across the Nation

POLITIKO / Latest News

Twitter to boot users who persist with Covid-19 lies

Twitter said Monday it will start labeling misleading tweets about Covid-19 vaccines and boot users who persist in spreading such misinformation.

The one-to-many messaging service introduced a “strike system” that will gradually escalate to a permanent ban after the fifth offending tweet.

“We believe the strike system will help to educate the public on our policies and further reduce the spread of potentially harmful and misleading information on Twitter,” the San Francisco-based company said in a blog post.

“Particularly for repeated moderate and high-severity violations of our rules.”

Twitter users will be notified when a tweet is labeled as misleading or needs to be removed for breaking the platform’s rules, earning a strike, according to the company.

The second and third strikes will each result in the violating account being blocked for 12 hours.

With a fourth violation, an account will be sidelined for seven days. A fifth strike will get accounts permanently suspended, Twitter said.

Twitter late last year began calling on users to remove dangerously misleading Covid-19 claims, including suggestions that vaccines are used to harm or control people.

The service also targeted baseless claims about adverse effects of vaccines or questioning the reality of the pandemic.

Since then, Twitter has removed more than 8,400 tweets and notified some 11.5 million accounts worldwide about violations of its Covid-19 information rules.

The strike system is similar to what Twitter applies to election-related misinformation, which led to former US president Donald Trump being permanently banned for repeated violations, including language that the platform said could incite violence and questioning the integrity of the voting process.

Covid-19 vaccination campaigns are taking place in many countries in an effort to keep people healthy and return to pre-pandemic lifestyles.

YouTube and Facebook are among the online platforms that have taken steps to fight the spread of lies about the pandemic and vaccines.


© Agence France-Presse

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Tokyo asks China to end Covid-19 anal swabs for Japanese

Japan has asked China to avoid using anal swabs to test its citizens for coronavirus, saying the method prompted complaints of “psychological distress”.

Tokyo’s intervention comes after reports that US diplomatic personnel in China had complained of being subjected to the intrusive tests — a claim Beijing denied.

China, which has largely brought the virus under control domestically, said last month that anal swabs can be more effective than normal throat and nose tests as the virus can linger longer in the digestive system.

But Japanese government spokesman Katsunobu Kato said late Monday that Tokyo had made a formal request through its embassy in Beijing that people arriving from the country be exempted.

“Our embassy requested Japanese citizens be excluded from anal PCR tests, as some Japanese expatriates… expressed the opinion that the tests produce significant psychological distress,” Kato said.

“At this point we have not received a response that they change this… We will continue pressing the issue,” he added, noting that there was no information that any other country was using the method.

Asked about the complaint, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Beijing’s testing methods were “science-based” and “in accordance with the changes in the epidemic situation as well as relevant laws and regulations”.

Last month, US media said State Department personnel in China had complained about the method, but Beijing rebuffed the reports, saying it had “never requested US diplomatic personnel in China to undergo anal swabs”.

Officials in China have used anal swabs to test people it considers at high-risk of contracting Covid-19, including residents of neighbourhoods with confirmed cases as well as some international travellers.

But they have acknowledged it would be hard to use anal swabs as widely as the other methods, which have been used to test millions in mass campaigns, as the technique was “not convenient”. Agence France-Presse

Philippines fires diplomat whose maid attacks were caught on film

The Philippines has sacked its former ambassador to Brazil, after she was caught on camera attacking a domestic worker at her official residence in Brasilia.

Marichu Mauro was recalled to Manila late last year after Brazil’s GloboNews channel broadcast security camera footage filmed over eight months showing her repeatedly assaulting a member of her household staff.

The career diplomat has now been dismissed from the foreign service, President Rodrigo Duterte told a television audience on Monday.

“There are rules to be followed. If you disobey, you take the risk. If something goes wrong, it’s gonna hit you,” Duterte said.

Mauro’s firing means she will lose her pension. She is also barred from standing for public office.

According to GloboNews, the Filipino worker was employed at the ambassador’s official residence, a large gated compound in Brazil’s capital.

Footage of the abuse — dated between March and October 2020 — was used as evidence in a complaint lodged with the Philippine government against Mauro, it said.

Mauro was posted to Brazil in 2018, from where she oversaw the missions to Colombia, Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela.

Mauro has not responded to AFP’s request for comment on her dismissal.

Millions of Filipinos escape low wages, unemployment and limited opportunities at home by going overseas, including as to become domestic workers. Their remittances are vital to the local economy.

But many of these workers face difficult or dangerous conditions, and reports of physical or psychological abuse are not uncommon, though most instances involve foreign employers. Agence France-Presse



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