‘Politics’ hampers fight vs coronavirus

SOUTH COTABATO Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. is allegedly delaying the turnover of the Allah Valley Community Hospital in the town of Surallah to the Department of Health (DoH) for political reasons, apparently hampering the government’s fight against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). Immediate turnover would enable the DoH to formally upgrade the Allah Valley Community Hospital […]

Energy firm aids distance learning in Benguet

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet: To support teachers, who provide learning opportunities to students through distance learning reputedly the new mode of education a renewable energy firm, Headcor, has distributed P150,000 worth of school supplies to three schools here. Arron Andawi, external relations supervisor of Hedcor, said Bineng Elementary School, Bodiweng Elementary School and Bineng National High […]

Lawton COVID-19 drive-thru test site closed

The free coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) drive-thru serology testing in front of the Kartilya ng Katipunan in Lawton has been closed to give way to ongoing construction, Manila Mayor Francisco ‘Isko Moreno’ Domagoso said on Monday.  He encouraged the public to proceed to Luneta Grandstand for virus testing.

(JANSEN ROMERO / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Our drive-thru serology antibody IgG testing at the Kartilya and at the Grandstand, we want to inform the public that those who are planning to go to our drive-thru free mass testing please proceed to Luneta.  Those planning to go to the Kartilya, kindly go to the Luneta Grandstand,” Domagoso said in a mix of English and Filipino during a Facebook live.

Domagoso said while the free serology mass testing will continue in the city, the drive-thru testing beside the Manila City Hall will be closed to give way to ongoing construction at Lawton.

He added that because the economy is slowly rebooting, and some businesses have reopened while people started to go back to work, traffic is building up at the Lawton area.

Closing the drive-thru testing will reportedly help ease up the traffic.

The free COVID-19 serology testing at the Luneta Grandstand is bigger than the one in Lawton. On top of the drive-thru testing, Domagoso said the city has five walk-in serology testing and two saturation mobile testing units that go around different barangays in Manila.

Domagoso also announced that on top of its IgG antibody testing, the Manila city government will now employ IgM antibody serology testing.

He said IgM reagents arrived from Germany for its serology testing machines.

“The IgM antibody testing will fulfill an important role if someone has developed antibodies in response to the virus indicating a recent or active infection. Ibig sabihin kung nag-positibo kayo, malalaman na agad natin. Maaaring kayo’y na-expose sa isang positibo at gusto niyo nang malaman 2-3 days after at gusto niyo na magpa test, malalaman natin agad natin thru IgM (This means that if you test positive, we will know it right away. You may have been exposed to a  COVID-19 positive and you want to know 2-3 days after, and you want to be tested, we will know this immediately through the IgM),” Domagoso explained. 

He said the IgG antibody testing with 99.6 percent specificity and 100 percent sensitivity will now also become IgM.

According to heath site WebMD, Immunoglobulin G or the IgG is the most common type of antibody in the blood and other body fluids.

These antibodies protect a person against infection by “remembering” which germs one has been exposed to. 

On the other hand, bodies make Immunoglobulin M or IgM antibodies when first infected with new bacteria or other germs.

The IgM is the body’s first line of defense against infections.

When the body senses an invader, the IgM level will rise for a short time.

It will then begin to drop as the IgG level kicks in and increases to protect the individual in the long-term. 

Manila opens 2nd molecular laboratory

Another molecular laboratory where coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients can get swab tests opened at Sta. Ana Hospital in Manila Tuesday morning.

Sta. Ana Hospital Director Dra. Grace Padilla shows the new machines inside the newly inaugurated second swab testing and molecular laboratory at Sta. Ana Hospital in Manila on Tuesday (JANSEN ROMERO / MANILA BULLETIN)

This will boost Manila’s testing capacity to 1,000 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests per day. 

The Ayala Group of Companies contributed P8.5 million for the construction of the molecular laboratory.

“Health has now become everyone’s priority given the continuing challenges brought about by COVID-19. It is our firm belief that responding to the crisis requires a holistic approach with the private sector and government working together,” said Fernando Zobel de Ayala, chief operating officer of the Ayala Corporation. 

The new laboratory is equipped with biosafety cabinets class II, two PCR hoods, two biomedical refrigerators for reagents, two freezers, eight computer sets, and a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) or the Bag-In and Bag-Out Filter.

Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso said they will continue to shoulder the cost of treating COVID-19 patients. 

“If it’s expensive, pera naman ng taumbayan yan (it’s the people’s money). They deserve better things from the government. Your city government, in our own little way, will not stop serving our fellow Manileños,” he said.

The Manila mayor said earlier vendors from the city’s public markets will be prioritized in testing for the virus in the second molecular laboratory.

The city’s first molecular laboratory is also located at Sta. Ana Hospital.

Manila LGU now able to detect IgG and IgM of individuals tested for COVID-19

The local government of Manila is now able to detect IgM antibodies of those availing of its free serology coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing following the arrival of its IgM reagents.

(JANSEN ROMERO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Previously, the city’s Abbott machines could only detect IgG antibodies which could not say if an individual has an ongoing infection.

Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso on Monday said that detecting IgM antibodies of individuals who are being tested for COVID-19 will “play an important role” because it will indicate a “recent or active” infection “if someone has developed antibodies in response to the virus.”

“Ibig sabihin kung nag-positibo kayo, malalaman na agad natin. Maaaring kayo’y na-expose sa isang positibo at gusto niyo nang malaman 2-3 days after at gusto niyo na magpa-test, malalaman natin agad natin thru IgM (This means that if you are positive for COVID-19, we will immediately know. In case you’re exposed to a positive patient, we will be able to know if you are also infected after two to three days of exposure),” Domagoso said.

He added that those who want to avail of the city’s free serology testing services can go to its drive-thru testing center at Luneta Grandstand as there is an ongoing construction at its Lawton site.

Cainta opens Antigen Testing Facility Center

CAINTA, Rizal- The municipality of Cainta opened its newest coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing facility for its residents as part of its continuing efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease.

A patient is tested through Antigen testing procedure at the Cainta Antigen Testing Facility Center in Cainta, Rizal (photo from Facebook page of Mayor Nieto/MANILA BULLETIN)

Mayor Johnielle Keith Nieto told Manila Bulletin that the Antigen Testing Facility Center located at the Liwasang Bayan is one of the town’s strategies “to flatten the curve.”

Mayor Nieto posted on Facebook that the initial tests on patients last week have resulted in 100 percent ‘specificity.’ All patients who tested positive in the Antigen Rapid Diagnostic Test also tested positive with RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) testing.

Nieto said the test is free for residents including walk-ins.

The requesting person shall first fill up the health declaration form, and the Antigen Test Application Form.

Those who have been diagnosed early through the antigen test, can be ‘isolated, quarantined, and treated accordingly,’ Nieto said.

Dr. Francisco San Diego of the Cainta Municipal Hospital, the person-in-charge of the testing facility told Manila Bulletin that the Antigen testing is recommended only for those who have symptoms during the first 5 days, those who have been exposed to a COVID-19 patient but are pre-symptomatic or those who are still waiting for the confirmatory RT-PCR test results.

The municipal government targets to test health care workers and those living in  communities with “cluster outbreak setting.”

Of the 80 persons who were tested on September 28 alone using the Antigen test (through swabbing), nine tested positive, San Diego said.

Nieto said the local government spends from P400 to P500 per test per individual.  The result is released about 30 minutes after swabbing making the COVID screening, “fast, reliable and efficient.”

PH wins gold, 2 bronze medals at 61st Int’l Math Olympiad

The Philippines won a gold medal, two bronze medals and three honorable mentions at the 61st International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) held from Sept. 19 to 28. 

The country’s contestants to the IMO this year (Photo courtesy of the Gold for Gold: Philippine IMO Team page on Facebook)

Saint Petersburg, Russia was originally selected as the venue for this year’s contest but due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the IMO was held online with contestants taking the test in their respective countries. A total of 616 contestants including 56 females from 105 countries took part this year, according to IMO.  

Andres Rico Gonzales III of the De La Salle University Integrated School won the country’s gold medal, placing fourth overall, the highest individual ranking for a Filipino contestant. He won a bronze medal last year and an honorable mention in 2018. 

Winning bronze medals are IMO first-timer Raphael Dylan Dalida of Philippine Science High School-Main and Bryce Ainsley Sanchez of Grace Christian College, who won a bronze medal in the contest last year.  

Those who received honorable mentions are Immanuel Josiah Baleta of St. Stephen’s High School, Sarji Elijah Bona of Palawan Hope Christian School / De La Salle University Integrated School and Vincent dela Cruz of Valenzuela City School of Mathematics and Science. 

This is the fourth gold medal for the Philippines in the IMO since the country joined the competition in 1988. The first time was in 2016 when Farrell Eldrian Wu and Kyle Patrick Dulay won gold medals followed by Albert John Patupat in 2018. The country has won 12 silver and 33 bronze medals, and 26 honorable mentions to date.  

Last year, the country took home a silver and five bronze medals from the IMO held in the United Kingdom. 

The Philippine team’s leader this year is Christian Paul Shio, who represented the country in the 1998 IMO, and the deputy leader is Carlo Francisco Adajar, who joined the contest in 2007 and 2009. All the contestants were selected through the Philippine Mathematical Olympiad (PMO). 

OFW groups back new Bulacan airport

VARIOUS migrant workers groups are pinning their hopes on the construction of an international airport in the province of Bulacan as a potential source of jobs and livelihood opportunities for workers displaced by the global pandemic. Susan Ople, president of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, said the construction of the new airport has become a source of hope […]

Daycare enrolment in Pasig ends Sept. 30

Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto clarified that parents need not present a voter’s registration when enrolling their children in daycare centers in the city.

Parents or guardians only have to submit a photocopy of their child’s birth certificate and any proof of residency.

(PASIG LGU/ MANILA BULLETIN)

“Paglilinaw lamang po na sapat na ang anumang proof of residency para makapag-enroll sa daycare program ng ating siyudad, at hindi required ang voter’s registration o cedula (I just want to clarify that any proof of residency is enough to be able to enroll in our city’s daycare program.  Voter’s registration or cedula is not required),” Sotto said.

Previously, the local government included voter’s registration among the requirements for enrollment at daycare centers in the city.

“Pasensya na po, nagkamali lang na nakopya ito mula sa lumang listahan ng mga requirements (Apologies.  It was mistakenly copied from the old list of requirements),” Sotto explained.

Enrollment in daycare centers is until September 30.

“Maaaring ipasa ang mga requirements sa daycare center na malapit sa inyong tahanan. Hanapin lamang po ang teacher-in-charge sa nasabing daycare center (The requirements can be submitted to the daycare center near you. Just look for the teacher-in-charge of the daycare center),” the local government posted on Facebook.

“Kung wala pang proof of residency sa kasalukuyan, maaari naman itong “to follow” ngunit kailangang mai-submit ang photocopy ng Birth Certificate ng bata (If there is no proof of residency yet, it can be submitted later but a photocopy of the child’s Birth Certificate must be submitted upon enrollment),” the LGU added.

Govt okays Antigen in Baguio City

THE government had approved the pilot test of Antigen rapid testing in Baguio City with its planned resumption of tourist activities in the country’s summer capital, Malacañang announced on Thursday. Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) issued Resolution 73 adopting the protocols on the […]

Metro Manila should remain in GCQ until end-October — Health expert

A public health expert on Sunday noted a downtrend in the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the country, but urged the government to keep epicenter Metro Manila under general community quarantine (GCQ) until end of October.

(JANSEN ROMERO / MANILA BULLETIN)

In an interview over DZMM, Dr. Tony Leachon, former adviser to the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of  Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), said the situation in the National Capital Region (NCR) has improved but cautioned that a surge is still possible once the region further relaxes restrictions.

“Ang numero naman natin ay gumaganda, Yung reproductive number, normal dapat less than 1. Sa buong Pilipinas, less than 0.82.  Sa NCR is 0.73.  So these are good numbers (Our numbers are improving. Our current reproductive number is less than 0.82 nationwide, and 0.73 in the Metro Manila. The ideal is less than 1),” Leachon said.

The figures are below the ideal “1,” which mean the virus could “eventually die out.” 

“Though may improvement sa numbers, ang request ng Metro Manila mayors, ang gusto nila, mailagay muna sila sa GCQ ng isang buwan para maisaayos nila ang kanilang pagkukulang sa testing at contact tracing, para sa ganun maganda ang Pasko (Even if the numbers are improving, Metro Manila mayors are recommending their respective areas to be under GCQ for another month so they can improve their testing and contact tracing to prepare for the Christmas season),” Leachon added.

“Kasi kung luluwag ngayon, lahat okay na, permissive socio-economic activities, tapos alam naman natin ang cultural quotient ng Pilipino, pag may event lang naglalabasan na, baka magka-surge ito, at aabot sa Christmas season (If we start to ease restrictions, many Filipinos will go out, and we could see a surge in daily virus cases),” he underscored.

The health expert said he is favoring GCQ extension until the end of October to “pave way for a very nice” Christmas season.

“Kunwari bumaba ng mga 0,6 or 0.5 [reproduction rate], ang NCR magiging masaya Pasko natin. Rather than ngayon, lumuwag tayo, tapos balik na naman tayo sa GCQ or ECQ (Enhanced Community Quarantine) sa Nobyembre, mahirap naman yun (If we could lower our virus reproduction rate to maybe 0.6 or 0.5, we would have a happy Christmas. Rather than easing restrictions and eventually reverting to GCQ or ECQ in November, that would be difficult),” he added.

Leachon noted the Philippines’ positive rate is “still high” with almost 3,000 new cases daily.

“Kung magtitiyaga tayo nang isang buwan pa, magiging mga 2,000 [cases] or kung mas maganda pa, less than 1,000 (If we could still endure another month-long GCQ, we can possibly lower our new daily cases to 2,000 or 1,000),” he added.

On Saturday, researchers from the University of the Philippines OCTA Research Team submitted their recommendation to the IATF for another month-long GCQ in Metro Manila.

Metro Manila mayors are scheduled to meet Sunday noon to discuss their recommendation.

The Philippines as of Saturday reported 301,256 cases of COVID-19, with 232,906 recoveries and 5,284 deaths.

Zamora checks on fitness activities at Pinaglabanan Shrine

San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora made a surprise visit at the Pinaglabanan Memorial Shrine on Saturday to check if people exercising at the shrine’s grounds are observing minimum health protocols.

(Photo from Mayor Francis Zamora’s FB page)

The local government recently opened the historic shrine for individual exercises such as walking, jogging, running and biking following the easing of quarantine measures in Metro Manila.

“All you have to do is follow mandatory safety measures and health protocols such as wearing a mask and face shield, and practicing physical distancing with the people around you,” Zamora said.

Group exercises, particularly activities with more than 10 people, are still prohibited.

The memorial shrine recently received a P50 million makeover to rehabilitate the walkways, facilities and landscaping at the shrine’s grounds.

“Umaasa ako na kung sakali pagdating ng pasko ay mas papayagan na ang kakaunting Christmas activities ay dito natin iyan isasagawa (I hope that come Christmas, we will be allowed to do a few Christmas activities here),” Zamora said.

Before the pandemic, the shrine served as venue for a Christmas bazaar. The local government also hold its annual lighting activity of the giant Christmas tree, life-sized manger and Christmas decor at the shrine’s grounds.

Aside from the memorial shrine, Zamora has also inspected the newly installed bike lanes along select streets in the city while riding his bicycle.

An athlete and a health and fitness enthusiast, Zamora urged city residents to stay fit and healthy amid the pandemic.

“Having a strong and healthy body need not really be expensive or time-consuming.  We can do it even while doing something else, like biking to and from your work, brisk walking and jogging while doing errands,” he said.

Woman hit, killed by tractor-trailer in Manila

A 54-year-old woman was killed after she was hit by a tractor-trailer while crossing the highway in Manila on Friday morning.

PHOTO COURTESY: MPD-PIO

The Manila Police District identified the victim as Aileen Rada.

Police said that an Isuzu tractor-trailer being driven by Marvin Santos was traversing the southbound lane of Osmeña Highway in Malate around 11:54 a.m. when it hit Rada.

The victim then fell on the ground and was dragged several meters away.

Police said, the suspect will face charges for Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Homicide.

Six pharmacy storages open in Manila

Six pharmacy storages opened in different parts of Manila today (Sept. 25) to “decentralize” the distribution of medicines needed by residents on World Pharmacists Day.

(ISKO MORENO DOMAGOSO OFFICIAL FACEBOOK PAGE/ MANILA BULLETIN)

The Manila Health Department said the new storages are located at Vitas Health Center and Atang Dela Rama Health Center in Tondo, F. Lanuza Health Center in Santa Cruz, F. Legarda Health Center in Sampaloc, Paco Health Center in Paco and Bacood Health Center in Santa Mesa.

“The different health centers in the city will get their supply of medicines in their respective pharmacy storage located in their districts,” the Manila Health Department said.

Aside from distributing the medicines previously stored at a central facility to six districts, city health officer Dr. Arnold Pangan said, the opening of the six storages will also expedite the release of medicines and prevent them from getting expired due to long storage.

Medicines purchased by the local government as well as those donated by the Department of Health will be stored in the pharmacy storages and given for free to less privileged residents.

San Juan LGU helps hearing-impaired man to reunite with family in Laguna

The hearing-impaired man in San Juan City, who recently went viral on social media, was provided by the local government with transportation back to his hometown in Laguna province.

(Photo from San Juan City LGU)

Mayor Francis Zamora led the send-off ceremony on Thursday for 26-year-old Rhesty Bemida, a locally stranded individual (LSI), back to his home in San Pablo, Laguna.

“In spite of being deaf and mute, he pushed himself to learn mathematics and language,” Zamora said.

He said Bemida recently went viral on social media after netizens found him studying mathematics, letters, and shapes at a parking lot of a church along F. Blumentritt in San Juan.

The local government said Bemida is originally from San Pablo, Laguna and lived with his mother, Ella. He left his home a few months ago and did not return. He does not know his family’s address. He has been homeless since then and is only able to feed himself by scavenging for junk.

“He will be brought home to Laguna today and we provided him with rice, canned goods, and toiletries. It was also his birthday last September 19 so we also gave him a personal cash gift,” Zamora said.

The mayor said Bemida’s family sought assistance for the return of their relative in Laguna following a news report that Bemida was seen at a church’s parking lot in San Juan.

The city government, through the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, facilitated the return of Bemida to his hometown after securing a health clearance, travel authority, and testing negative for coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

To date, San Juan has facilitated more than 100 LSIs to safely return to their hometowns in different parts of the country such as Isabela, Nueva Ecija, Cararines, Masbate, Samar, Leyte, and even as far as Lanao del Sur. 

Manila opens 5th walk-in COVID-19 testing facility

The Manila City government opened its fifth walk-in coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) testing facility at the Ospital ng Tondo Thursday morning.

(Photos from Dra. Honey Lacuna Facebook page/MANILA BULLETIN)

Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso said the new testing facility can accommodate 100 people per day and will be open at 6 a.m. from Monday to Friday.

The city’s walk-in testing facilities use serology testing machines that process blood samples and has an accuracy rate of 99.6 percent.

(Photos from Dra. Honey Lacuna Facebook page/MANILA BULLETIN)

Similar to the other testing centers in the city, the facility will be offering free testing for both residents and non-residents of the country’s capital.

Domagoso said this is in line with their inclusive approach in fighting the pandemic and is also a way to help cash-strapped individuals who require testing amid the COVID-19 crisis.

“Naaawa naman ako sa tao. May mga gusto na pumasok sa trabaho, gagastos pa sila. Ang negosyante, lugi-lugi na rin. Gagastos pa sila for testing (I feel pity for people. There are those who want to go to work, but they still have to spend. Businessmen are really at a disadvantage. They have to spend for testing). That is why we’ve always wanted to offer this service,” he said in his speech.

The other walk-in testing centers in Manila are at the Gat Andres Bonifacio Memorial Medical Center, Ospital ng Sampaloc, Justice Jose Abad Santos General Hospital, and Ospital ng Maynila.

The city also has two drive-thru COVID-19 testing facilities near the Andres Bonifacio Monument in Ermita, Manila and at the Quirino Grandstand.

Two mobile serology testing clinics also roam around at least in two barangays per day to conduct testing.

With the opening of Manila’s fifth walk-in testing facility, the city’s serology testing capacity is now at 100,000 tests per month.

The Manila mayor also said that when they open their second molecular laboratory at Sta. Ana Hospital, where patients can be swabbed for free, the city will have a capacity of 1,000 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests per day.

“Palalakasin din namin ang capability ng local government sa pamamaraan ng ‘gold standard’ way of testing. We are about to finish an additional swab laboratory testing area with two machines given to us by DOH and DBM,” he told reporters.

Its first molecular laboratory is also located at Sta. Ana Hospital.

Data from the city government showed that they have conducted a total of 26,543 PCR tests and 66,080 serology tests as of Wednesday noon.

Manila now has 13,350 confirmed COVID-19 cases. Of this number, 798 are active cases, 12,093 have recovered, and 459 died.