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Local Roundup: ‘Frontline workers deserve risk pay’

Health care workers in the Philippines, directly attending to COVID-19 patients, including suspect and probable ones, should receive the special risk allowance and hazard pay provided under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Thursday.

Vergeire told a Laging Handa public briefing: “Those who implement these benefits for our health care workers need to understand that we will not only choose those who are COVID-positive only who will be cared for by the health care workers.”

Under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, a COVID-19 SRA must be provided to all public and private health workers “directly catering to or in contact with COVID-19 patients for every month that they are serving during the state of national emergency.”

This shall be in addition to the hazard pay granted under the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers and active hazard duty pay under Bayanihan 2. The SRA shall be exempt from income tax.

COVID-19 cases

The number of coronavirus disease 2019 cases in the Philippines increased to 507,717 on Thursday after the Department of Health (DOH) announced 1,783 new infections as four laboratories failed to submit data on time.

This marks the third consecutive day where less than 2,000 cases were reported.

The DOH also announced that 500 more patients have recovered from the illness, bringing the total to 467,475, while the nation’s death toll rose to 10,116 with 74 new fatalities.

Holiday surge

The expected surge in cases of COVID-19 in Metro Manila due to the holiday season was “weaker than expected,” experts from the OCTA Research Team said.

According to GMA’s “24 Oras” report, the experts cited data from the past two weeks showing that the reproduction number of COVID-19 in the capital region decreased.

The reproduction number in Metro Manila is currently at 1.07 from 1.08 on Tuesday.

“The trend lines… moving slightly downward indicate that the holiday surge in NCR was much weaker than expected,” the experts said.

“It remains to be seen if the recent Black Nazarene festival will have any effect on the pandemic, but early indications do not point to a possible surge,” OCTA said.

Spike in cases

The Department of Health said on Thursday that the observed increase on the number of COVID-19 cases in areas outside Metro Manila could be attributed to the recent holiday activities.

Vergeire said: “Outside of Metro Manila, we could see the increase of cases and we are monitoring this.”

The spike was observed in the Cordillera Administrative Region, Cagayan Valley, Bicol Region, Central Visayas, Davao Region, SOCCSKSARGEN, and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, according to the health official.

Topics: Bayanihan to Recover as One Act , Maria Rosario Vergeire , Health Care Workers , COVID-19
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