Manila to achieve herd immunity soon, only 60k left

Manila to achieve herd immunity soon, only 60k left | Juan Manila


Manila takes a step closer to achieving herd immunity with only 58,870 individuals left to be fully vaccinated in the city.


MANILA, Philippines — The city’s target population is 1,351,487, with currently 95.64 percent of this already inoculated from Covid-19.

The city has already exceeded the Department of Health’s target number in providing the people their first doses. It has already achieved 107.22 percent of the agency’s goal.

Presently, the city has a total of 1,292,617 individuals fully vaccinated from the virus, with an additional 50,000 pediatric jabs on their first doses as of 13 November.

In its latest report, Manila has recorded 271 active COVID-19 cases as of 14 November. (HMP/Headline PH)

Featured image: A drive-thru vaccination center was installed on 31 July 2021 at the Quirino Grandstand and could accommodate up to 1,200 individuals daily. /Credit: Manila PIO

NCR stays under Alert Level 3, other areas included

NCR stays under Alert Level 3, other areas included | Juan Manila


As the number of new cases and transmission levels in the National Capital Region continue to fall, the pandemic task force has chosen to keep the city at the status quo while expanding coverage in other areas.


MANILA, Philippines — With the previous warning level for the half-month expiring on 31 October, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging and Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has chosen to retain Alert Level 3 in place from 01 to 14 November while expanding its coverage in specific locations.

The IATF includes in its list 10 more areas spread across the country:

  • Baguio
  • Bataan
  • Cavite
  • Iloilo
  • Laguna
  • Lanao del Norte
  • Rizal
  • Siquijor
  • Davao City
  • Davao del Norte

Despite the steady reduction in cases in a growing number of places, the pandemic task force urges the public to continue to monitor and follow health and safety precautions.

Meanwhile, health officials caution that while the country is not yet out of the woods, complacency is not an excuse. (RA/JuanManila)  

Vaccine rollout for children starts 05 Nov. across the country

Vaccine rollout for pediatrics starts 05 November | Juan Manila


The National Vaccination Operations Center has announced that the scheduled 05 November nationwide rollout of vaccination for children aged 12 to 17 will begin two days early in the National Capital Region.

The Covid-19 pediatric vaccination, which is presently being administered in around 20 hospitals in the NCR to children with comorbidities, has entered Phase 2.


MANILA — According to NVOC chairperson and health undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje, they have given the authority to the local government units (LGUs) to select the venues and schedule for the vaccination of minors, but she has also cautioned the local chief executives to conduct a thorough study to map out a foolproof plan for the vaccine rollouts.

“We will leave it to the discretion of the local government units. Iyong mga bakuna center in general pareho iyan sa adult…Baka i-extend ang time considering some distance problems or kaya naman Sabado o Linggo,” Cabotaje said.

“Walang specific na dates. Basta gusto natin mabakunahan as fast as many and with minimum wastage and safety ang ating prime consideration. Tapos alam naman natin magugulo ang mga bata, tapos may kasama pa sila. So preferably, hiwalay na lane o kaya hiwalay na kuwarto ang paggagawan. Or some LGUs will have separate schedule days,” she added.

The guidelines for the vaccination of children with comorbidities are nearly identical to those for children without, with the only need being is a written authorization from parents or guardians before the available vaccinations are provided, according to Cabotaje.

“Ang kaibahan lang ay iyong sa rest of the pediatric population, we will not require a medical certificate or a medical clearance from the attending doctor kasi we presume na hindi naman may sakit ito, they are healthy and they have no history of any illness. Pero itutuloy pa rin natin iyong ating screening,” the health undersecretary explained.

She noted that there is a high incidence of pericarditis and myocarditis among minors so parents are needed to be informed about these conditions or whether their siblings have comorbidities or not.

“May mga ibang side effects na hindi nakikita sa adult kagaya ng anxiety reaction. ‘Di ba gaya ng bata, natatakot na mabakunahan siya, puwede siyang mag-faint, bihirang mga adults ang nagpe-faint, wala pa yata akong nakitang nag-faint, iyong tumataas ang heart rate,” she said. (TRC/JuanManila)

Moreno calls out Govt agencies on events that draw crowds

Moreno calls out Govt agencies on events that draw crowds | Juan Manila


Manila residents, in a seeming frenzy, flocked to the dolomite beach portion of the Manila Bay right after the national capital region’s lockdown category was relaxed to Alert Level 3.

The Government’s pandemic task force announced the easing of COVID-19 restrictions on 16 October.


MANILA — Mayor Francisco Domagoso aired his challenge to Government authorities to file charges against the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) officials over incidents of overcrowding at the Manila Baywalk Dolomite Beach for ‘encouraging’ the violation of regulations and health safety protocols Government authorities, including local government executives and enforcement agents, implement and observe.

Moreno addressed the challenge to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) as the agency has been tasked to manage Government’s response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and to establish official policies in combating the pandemic and protecting the citizenry from Covid-19.

He said that since jurisdiction of the dolomite beach is with the DENR due to the agency’s ongoing rehabilitation project in the area, it is the IATF’s concern to reprimand those from the DENR who had been remiss in securing the area from becoming a super spreader event for violating Covid protocols already set in place.

“It’s ironic because they are the ones supposed to implement (rules) yet they are the ones who violate (it) and they think the public would still follow them,” the mayor pointed out.

“I’m challenging agencies of government under IATF to file charges in violation sa mga kapwa nila (against their fellow agencies in the) national government,” he stressed.

According to Moreno, due diligence must be observed especially when such events—such as the overcrowding at the dolomite beach—could be another super spreader amid the pandemic.

“If due diligence was done by DENR, in this case. I’m calling the IATF, to charge those people in DENR for violating our rules. If we cannot implement it within their offices, then there is no point to implementing sa mga taumbayan (implementing it to the public),” he noted.

“We are giving the public a hard time yet those violating are those in the national government,” he said. (TRC/JuanManila)

Antigen home tests should be SOP for added safety—DTI

Antigen home tests should be SOP for added safety—DTI | Juan Manila


The decreasing number of COVID-19 infections and transmissions isn’t enough for Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez to be convinced that there won’t be any more increases in the future, so he recommends that people have antigen tests at home.

Home tests, according to him, should now be normal standard operating procedure (SOP).


MANILA — Secretary Lopez said in an advisory to the public that such a standard procedure will aid in the prevention of further transmission of the fatal virus, citing the practice now in use in the United Kingdom and the United States as an example.

But swab or antigen tests are still limited to hospitals and recognized centers in the country at the moment.

“What should be SOP for every person is to have an antigen test (that could be administered on his or her own,” he said in a radio interview.

“We’ve observed in other countries—let’s say they’re reopening their economy and people are coming in and going out—what they did like in the UK and the US [was] they gave antigen tests to their citizens and then they are required to [get tested] twice a week or especially if they would go to a gathering.” he added.

Local health authorities, on the other hand, have yet to express their views on the use of self-administered test kits, as those used in the United Kingdom and the United States. (TRC/JuanManila

Gov’t eyes ₱45B vaccine funding for next year

Gov’t eyes ₱45B vaccine funding for next year | Juan Manila


In a bid to secure vaccine supplies for next year’s requirement in fighting the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Finance (DoF) has started negotiations with multilateral financing institutions for the procurement of additional Covid-19 vaccine doses next year.


MANILA — The Finance department has already initiated preliminary discussions for a ₱45 billion multilateral funding source for the purchase of more anti-coronavirus jabs that would pave the way for the inoculation of at least 80 percent if not the country’s entire population of more than 110 million.

The Duterte administration is now finalizing the multilateral loan arrangements with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and World Bank (WB).

Meanwhile, the Government expects the delivery of at least 140 to 160 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines before the current year ends in December.

In the first quarter of 2022, the total delivery will include the eight million doses of AztraZeneca jab procured by the private sector and six million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Ad26.COV2.S bought by the Government. (TRC/JuanManila)

Malacañan downplays Bloomberg’s ranking of PH

Malacañan downplays Bloomberg's ranking of PH | Juan Manila


Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr has downplayed the Bloomberg report that relegated the Philippines in last place in its latest Covid-19 Resilience Ranking.

Mr Roque said the results were not surprising since rich countries had more vaccines available for their citizens, making their economic recovery from the pandemic much faster.


MANILA — In a statement, Roque reacted to the Bloomberg survey report, stressing that “vaccines are key toward defeating Covid-19 (but) unfortunately, as President Duterte articulated in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), ‘rich countries hoard life-saving vaccines, while poor nations wait for trickles’.”

He also noted that the Philippines is a classic case where inoculation is highly dependent on the availability and stability of vaccine supplies.

“The Philippines, (on) many numerous occasions, has advanced its position on the universal access to Covid-19 vaccines, for the plain fact that the pandemic will not end unless the coronavirus is defeated everywhere through vaccination,” he said.

Based on ranking by Bloomberg, the Philippines and its Southeast Asian (SEA) neighbors, namely Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam, are at the bottom of the list while developed countries such as Ireland, Spain, the Netherlands, Finland and Denmark are on top.

Mr Roque said that the resilience ranking is also in line with the administration’s notion of total health, which he personally advocates, “where the re-opening of more industries and businesses allowing more people to return to their livelihood must be balanced with improving the country’s healthcare system capacity.” (TRC/JuanManila)

Health experts against in-person voting of Covid-19 patients

Health experts against in-person voting of Covid-19 patients | Juan Manila


Health authorities are against in-person voting of Covid-19 patients in facilities that will be set up by the Comelec in clustered precincts for the 2022 national elections.

In an earlier statement, the Comelec said, it will provide designated areas for Covid-19 patients so they could vote on the same day as those who are are not infected.


Health undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire urges the Commission on Elections to find other alternatives for Covid-19 patients to vote in the 2022 national elections. Allowing patients to vote in-person may lead to further transmission of the virus, the department says.

The Comelec said earlier that those who are positive for the virus may still vote in isolation booths at voting precincts.

“We all know that when a Covid-19 positive individual leaves his or her room, the patient can infect others,” says Ms Vergeire. She suggested the possibility for patients to cast their vote
through SMS.

“The DOH does not recommend allowing Covid-19 patients to leave their isolation area to do these kinds of activities because these might have some form of transmission and infect other people,” she says. (HMP/JuanManila)

Trade sector, related activities most affected by COVID-19

Trade sector, related activities most affected by COVID-19 | Juan Manila


The Department of Labor and Employment, upon conducting inspection on 48,000 companies, has gathered that about a tenth or 4,700 firms reported, they had employees who got infected with COVID-19 as of July.


MANILA — Labor and employment secretary Silvestre Bello III, however, wants to have a more accurate image of how the virus gets transmitted down to the workplace level despite all the precautions provided.

“When we do inspections, we are able to help companies that are still lacking in information (on standard health protocols). Our approach is developmental,” says DOLE assistant secretary Maria Teresita Cucueco.

Labor chief Bello, meanwhile, will start requiring all companies to report COVID-19 cases of anyone employed, as the agency aims to broaden its inspection target to cover 75,000 establishments for 2021.

Further findings from DOLE’s inspection reveal trade-related services have most cases of Covid-19 infections.

“We see that most of the cases are from the service sector, those in trade. Those doing related services are placed in this category, followed by the manufacturing, wholesale, and retail sectors, including the groceries and supermarkets,” says Ms Cucueco.

The list is followed by “those involved in finance and insurance activities, and finally, those in construction. These are the top five sectors that are reporting to us,” she says. (RA/JuanManila)

DBM junks ₱13B for health workers’ MAT, SRA

DBM junks ₱13B for health workers’ MAT, SRA | Juan Manila


The Department of Budget and Management ‘could not accommodate’ the budget request intended to benefit healthcare workers, it announced.


MANILA — It is difficult to accommodate the request for ₱13 billion to cover health workers allowances for meals, accommodation, and transportation, the DBM says.

“Ang meal, accommodation, and transportation allowance kasi…is supposed to be charged ‘yan against DOH budget,” says DBM Undersecretary Tina Rose Marie Canda during a Palace briefing.

Under the DOH’s allocation, the request could not be accommodated, Ms Canda points out.

“‘Yan ang malinaw doon sa approval galing sa Office of the President. Kaya lang sobrang laki at dami ng claims. So, medyo mahirap i-accommodate ‘yan sa loob ng budget ng DOH,” says Ms Canda.

[The meal, accommodation and transportation allowance is supposed to be charged against the budget of the DOH. That is clearly stated on the approval, which came from the Office of the President. However, the size of funds needed and number of claims are huge.]

The DBM released ₱311 million additional funds for health workers’ COVID-19 special risk allowance (SRA) only amid resounding calls from medical groups for the release of their long-sought-after benefits.

The DOH on Tuesday said it already disbursed over ₱237 million of the additional ₱311 million funds released for the COVID-19 special risk allowance (SRA) for the additional 20,000 health workers.

However, they did not include those for MAT (meals, accommodation, and transportation) allowance.

House hearing

During a House hearing, Health secretary Francisco Duque III admitted to Congresswoman Stella Quimbo that the frontliners’ SRA (special risk allowance) funds were among those affected by the budget cut.

The health secretary is counting on the the passage of the Bayanihan 3 to fund their benefits for 2022, he said. However, Congresswoman Quimbo said that the SRA is not part of the proposed law.

After a series of query and responses from the DOH panel, it appears that the SRA is not at all included in the agency’s budget agenda.

Mr Duque has requested that the department be given more time to asses which funds can be realigned for the SRA.

“Give us time and we will identify…what these programs or activities and projects (are), which yield the lowest impact among all that we have been implementing,” says the health secretary.

Wednesday’s protest rally

Meanwhile, Wednesday’s protest rally by healthcare workers staged in front of the DOH central office decries the still unreleased benefits such as their SRA, meals, accommodation, and transportation allowances.

The rallyists also sought for the resignation of secretary Duque for neglecting them, government professionals who deserve equal protection as the pandemic affects everyone, they said.

According to Romeo Garcia, president of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine Employees Association-Alliance of Health Workers, in a statement, “We waited 10 days for nothing.”

“The final countdown is over. No amount of benefits landed in our hands. Where did the billions of funds that were not used for our benefits go?” he added.

Over 1000,000 our of 526,000 health workers have not yet received their SRA, according to health undersecretary and treatment czar Leopoldo Vega on Wednesday admitted. (JD