Solidarity in the time of COVID-19 -- MS Supplement
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Covid roundup

PhilHealth to pay for test kits 

The Philippine Health Insurance Corp. will now be shouldering the testing costs for the COVID-19 virus so the public need not worry over the expenses that could be incurred by the people seeking treatment.

This was announced on Wednesday by Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, who confirmed that COVID-19 tests in hospitals would be covered by PhilHealth on top of the coverage for quarantine and isolation costs.

READ: Localized lockdown eyed

“The President recognizes that everyone in the country is concerned about COVID-19 and the threat this poses to the health and lives of our loved ones, especially vulnerable individuals like senior citizens, said Nograles.

WHO steps in

THE World Health Organization is studying the COVID-19 test kit developed by the University of the Philippines-National Institute of Health, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Wednesday.

He said an expert from the WHO had been conducting an assessment after some problems were seen. 

“We are afraid that the test kits would show a false negative result. I cannot afford to take any risks,” Duque said.

US approval sought

THE Department of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday said it was still waiting for the approval of the United States government for the repatriation of Filipinos aboard the coronavirus-stricken Grand Princess cruise liner in California.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Sarah Arriola said the DFA had to follow the US government’s protocols for the situation.

“We’re trying to launch repatriation for Grand Princess. But it is still subject to the approval of the US State Department, Arriola said.

Cases against 3

The Pangasinan Police Provincial Office is set to file cases against three people who posted COVID-19 photos in a social media platform and those who shared their posts.

In a forum hosted by the provincial government of Pangasinan on Tuesday, PPPO director Redrico Maranan said two of the three were females from Lingayen town, while the police were still investigating the identity of the third person.

“They have posted photos claiming that it is the reunion photo of the Australia-based Filipino who tested positive for COVID-19 and her classmates, and an alleged leaked list of the persons who attended the class reunion with them here in Pangasinan,” he said.

UN headquarters closed

The United Nations on Tuesday closed its New York headquarters to the general public to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, a spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said.

The move comes one week after a similar measure was taken at the main UN building in Geneva.

“As of now, we have not been advised of any COVID-19 cases among UN staff in New York,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.

Unprecedented measures

Coronavirus fears and a local outbreak of the deadly disease are forcing authorities to take unprecedented measures at Thursday’s Olympic Flame lighting ceremony for the 2020 Tokyo Games.

After dozens of people tested positive for COVID-19 in the broader western Peloponnese, the Greek Olympic Committee on Monday said the ceremony would be held without spectators.

Only 100 accredited guests from the International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee compared to 700 originally will be allowed to attend Thursday’s event in Olympia, where the ancient Games were held.

And a dress rehearsal scheduled for Wednesday will also be closed to the public.

Passenger volume still dropping

The airport authority in Manila is seeing a continuing drop in passenger volume in the country’s premier gateway for the last two months because of the travel restrictions and flight reductions and cancellations caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

In February, the Manila International Airport Authority recorded a total of 3,012,755 passengers in both domestic and international travels at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, down by 17 percent or 595,545 compared to the number of air travelers it recorded in the same month last year.

The COVID-19 outbreak also significantly affected the airline industry as local carriers like Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific Air reported an increase in canceled bookings.

The Department of Justice will continue to hold preliminary hearings on the cases filed before it despite the increasing number of COVID-19 infections in the country.

Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete on Wednesday said they had no plans of suspending the conduct of preliminary investigation hearings at the DOJ, but would closely monitor the developments on the COVID-19 in the country.

“So far, no cancellation of preliminary investigations at the National Prosecution Service. Until such time that further restrictions imposed by health authorities require cancellation of hearings, preliminary investigation of complaints will continue, Perete said in a text message.

Quarantine ends

The four personnel of the Department of Foreign Affairs who joined the team that repatriated the Filipinos from the virus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan have ended their quarantine in New Clark City in Tarlac on Wednesday.

The team includes Third Secretary and Vice Consul Thomas Philip Aquino, Acting Director Angela Tolentino, Chareloa Marcial and Ismael Alcano Jr. from the Philippine Embassy in Japan.

Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Sarah Arriola welcomed them over a lunch in Quezon City.

Sanitation operations

The City of Taguig has launched sanitation and disinfection operations in Bonifacio Global City and other public areas to help the government prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

“As part of the city’s intensified campaign versus COVID-19, the Taguig local government held sanitation and disinfection operations in multiple areas in the city,” said Mayor Lino Edgardo Cayetano. 

READ: Duterte suspends classes in Metro Manila Until March 14

READ: Coping with Covid: 'No-touch' at PSG

READ: Gatchalian to undergo self-quarantine after exposure to COVID-19 positive person

Topics: Philippine Health Insurance Corp. , COVID-19 virus , Karlo Nograles
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