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Local Roundup: • State of calamity extension definite • MM cases surge

President Rodrigo Duterte will “definitely” extend the declaration of a state of calamity in the Philippines as the country continues to have rising infections and deaths caused by the coronavirus pandemic – with total lockdown imposed on March 17.

AGAINST DUI. Members of the PNP-Highway Patrol Group, Land Transportation Office and the Metro Manila Development Authority conduct a joint operation against drivers driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs along the southbound lane of Roxas Boulevard and A. H. Lacson Avenue in Manila on Wednesday night. Drunk driving ranks among the most common causes of road accidents. Norman Cruz
There are at least 276,289 infections, 4,785 deaths and 208,096 recoveries based on official figures as at before sundown of Thursday.

Duterte initially declared a 6-month state of calamity last March 16 then placed the main island of Luzon under total lockdown the next day to check the spread of the coronavirus.

“Yes, definitely [it will be extended]. It’s in (sic) the desk of the President, probably signed by now,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said during a Palace press briefing, although Malacañang has not yet released a document on the possible extension.

Metro Manila

Metro Manila still logged the highest number of new infections at 963, followed by Bulacan with 448, Cavite with 274, Negros Occidental with 153, and Batangas with 119.

Seventy-five percent or 2,519 of the newly reported cases caught COVID-19 in the past 14 days.

The DOH also reported 53 new fatalities, bringing the death toll to 4,785.

The top regions with cases in the recent two weeks were NCR (742 or 29 percent), Region 4A (482 or 19 percent) and Region 6 (249 or 10 percent).

Moreover, there were 67 cases that were previously reported as recovered but after final validation, they were 11 deaths and 56 active cases.

Health workers

The number of health workers in the Philippines who have died due to COVID-19 has increased to 58, the Department of Health said in its latest report.

Last week, the DOH logged 16 coronavirus-related fatalities among health workers.

DOH spokesperson Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the sudden jump in health worker deaths was due to delayed validation.

As of Sept. 15, the cumulative total of health workers infected with COVID-19 had reached 8,665.

Face masks

The Department of Trade and Industry announced Thursday that the national government intends to distribute about 20 million reusable face masks, for free.

The DTI will disperse the sewing jobs to communities that benefited from shared services facilities and to unemployed and underemployed sewers who have sewing machines in their homes.

Women’s cooperative are also welcome to join and sewers from communities, as well.

“We want to distribute these masks in as early as 1 month and we hope to complete the initial 20 million (face masks) in 2 months,” said Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.

While the price of disposable face masks has dropped to less than P10 a piece, the DTI finds it prudent to give away washable face masks that can be reused over and over again.

Deployment ban

Senator Joel Villanueva has renewed his appeal to the government to lift the prevailing deployment ban on healthcare workers, as he suggested to health authorities to make improvements in their working conditions and contracts to make it more commensurate to the risk involved.

Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor committee, issued the appeal after the IATF leadership forwarded to the President its recommendation on the deployment ban issue, which have met strong opposition from healthcare workers such as nurses.

“The supply of healthcare workers is not the problem of our government, rather its ability to put value on their work. There is no doubt that our healthcare workers will choose to stay and serve in our health centers and hospitals if they can be assured of job security and sufficient salaries and benefits,” Villanueva said.

“We appeal to the government to lift the deployment ban for the sake of our healthcare workers who are in distress,” he added.

Topics: Rodrigo Duterte , COVID-19 , state of calamity , Harry Roque , Face mask , Department of Health , Joel Villanueva
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