An infectious disease expert on Sunday warned the public against the diseases common during the rainy season, and even as the country continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
The diseases influenza, leptospirosis, and dengue all have flu-like symptoms, according to Eric Tayag, the former chief of the National Epidemiology Center.
"Magiging mahirap nga yan sa mga health providers to distinguish between these diseases common during the rainy season. Ngayong tag-ulan, inaasahan natin ang pagtaas ng mga kaso sa binansagan nating WILD (Water-borne infectious diseases, Influenza, Leptospirosis and Dengue) diseases," Tayag told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
He says around 50,000 cases of dengue have been reported from January to the end of May, and mostly in Central Luzon and in Central Visayas.
Call for review
Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Michael Defensor has called for a review of the accuracy of all brands of COVID-19 tests being used by the Department of Health and licensed laboratories across the country.
“The DOH should discourage if not stop altogether the use of unreliable COVID-19 tests that produce high rates of false-negative results,” said Defensor, head of the House’s public accounts committee.
“We are investing P1.9 billion in COVID-19 screening, and the DOH should see to it that the money is spent only on the most dependable tests.”
He warned that the Health department and the authorized laboratories “could be wasting precious time and resources” redoing thousands of COVID-19 tests due to the large volume of false-negative results obtained from defective tests.
Push for social protection
A House leader on Sunday pushed for the enactment of a bill that aims to guarantee access to social protection for an estimated 16 million workers in the so-called informal economy.
Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte says workers in the informal sector have been hit the hardest by the work stoppages as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Villafuerte, author of House Bill 3465, or the proposed Magna Carta for Workers in the Informal Economy, says workers in this sector should also be assured of job security, health care services and other benefits that employees in the formal sector enjoy.
Call for a hearing
An official said Sunday he would call a congressional hearing on the proposed imposition of a tax on on-line sellers.
Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, head of the committee on ways and means chairman, said he will ask the Bureau of Internal Revenue to prepare the mechanics on the imposition of a new tax that the agency wants to impose on online sellers.
Salceda said his panel wants to know if the BIR wants a “shotgun” imposition or if only the big sellers will be covered.
“The committee will look into the clear intention of the proposal: Is it meant for the big companies engaged in digital transactions and not for the small entrepreneurs?” Salceda said.
He said he prefers to have the matter discussed in a House hearing where the affected parties will be given a chance to be heard.
Amid the rising number of COVID-19 cases, Senator Richard Gordon, chairman and CEO of the Philippine Red Cross, welcomed the accreditation of the PRC’s bio-molecular laboratories in Subic and Clark, saying the additional facilities would boost the PRC’s testing capacity.
Gordon said the two laboratories will be opened this week since these are ready to operate after passing the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine’s proficiency test last Friday and after being accredited as certified COVID-19 testing centers.
The Subic laboratory is at the PRC Logistics and Training Center inside the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, and the swabbing will be done at the SBF’s Main Gate. The facility can run up to 2,000 tests a day.
Meanwhile, the Clark laboratory at the Clark Freeport Zone is also capable of running the same number of tests.
Call for reskilling
With businesses struggling to stay afloat due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and with more people losing their jobs as a result, Senator Sonny Angara on Sunday said the reskilling and upskilling of workers is now more important than ever.
“Unemployment hit a high of 17.7 percent in April this year. That’s over 7.3 million Filipinos who need jobs," Angara said.
He says many businesses have to cut costs or start exploring new ways of making money.
"We cannot operate on a business-as-usual basis anymore,” Angara said.
“This is why we have been pushing for the upskilling of our workforce towards competencies that are required by employers and a lot of these are digital. These are the two terms that many of us will hear a lot these days.”