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100+ foreigners have virus; MMDA office shuts down

More than 100 foreign nationals in the Philippines have contracted the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), with 45 still in different hospitals, the Department of Health has said.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said of the 127 foreigners infected with COVID-19, 74 had been discharged from the hospital while eight died.

“For the COVID-19 patients currently admitted in Chinese General Hospital, confirmed positive (cases) are Filipinos who are mostly from Metro Manila,” Vergeire said in a briefing.

At the same time, the Manila International Airport Authority on Saturday announced that international flight operations at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport would resume on July 8.

Meanwhile, work for employees of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority will be suspended on Thursday and Friday after four personnel tested positive for coronavirus disease.

The MMDA will also conduct contact tracing and swab tests on those who had close encounter with the four personnel, and will be instructed to strictly comply with the 14-day quarantine period.

On Wednesday, all personnel will be allowed to go home at 2 p.m. as their workplaces will be placed under sanitation and disinfection procedures until Sunday to prevent the spread COVID-19.

“Upon the recommendation of the MMDA COVID-19 Committee, we have decided to suspend the operations at all our offices for sanitation and disinfection to protect not only our personnel but also the transacting public against the virus,” said MMDA chairman Danilo Lim.

No employee shall be allowed to enter any office during the sanitation and disinfection period.

“We assure the public that our offices will resume operations as soon as we have completed the sanitation and disinfection of our all offices by Monday,” said Lim.

Lim said the four personnel tested positive for COVID-19 after the agency conducted mass rapid testing and confirmatory swab test.

He added he immediately instructed his men to place the affected offices under lockdown procedure and be sanitized.

The MMDA has its own isolation facility to accommodate employees exposed to persons with COVID-19, tested positive on rapid test, and for those awaiting swab test results.

The 800-sqm isolation facility, at the MMDA’s parking area, has two sections – one for suspect and probable cases.

Each section has a 24-bed capacity equipped with shower rooms, comfort rooms, and lavatories. The rooms are fully air conditioned, with WI-FI connection, and are regularly cleaned and sanitized. Free meals are also provided.

The MMDA’s Medical Clinic is also closely monitoring and providing guidance and assistance to employees.

At the same time, the agency has put in place protocols on visitors entering the building to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“This pandemic is a difficult time for all of us and we must do everything we can to protect our personnel and visitors,” said Lim.

According to the guidelines, all visitors with official business with the agency shall initially stay in the reception area for verification if the visitor will be allowed to go to the concerned office.

Strictly no personal visits are allowed for the meantime given the high risk of COVID-19 transmission at this period.

Moreover, delivery personnel shall not be allowed to go straight to the office or area of the ordering or recipient entity. All deliveries shall be transacted only at the reception lobby.

Likewise, visitors need to fill-up health declaration form with contact details for contact tracing purpose.

In related developments, the Energy Department has put some offices on its compound at the energy complex in Taguig City on lockdown until Friday after three employees were found to be positive for the coronavirus disease.

“We are taking this action as an added precaution to ensure the safety of both our personnel and guests. Since last week, three of our employees were found to be COVID-19 positive and several others are under monitoring while on quarantine,” the department said in its advisory.

It said DOE personnel were given much needed medical attention. Intensive contact tracing is also being conducted at the moment.

The agency advised stakeholders that the DOE Compound (i.e. DOE Main Building and Annex, the Gymnasium, Motorpool, and the Multi-Purpose Building) will be on full lockdown starting Wednesday until Friday.

Meanwhile, DOE offices located at PNOC Bldg. 5 (i.e. the Oil Industry Management Bureau, Renewable Energy Management Bureau, Office of the Secretary, and some Executive Offices) will be operating with a minimum skeleton workforce.

DOE said it has been strictly implementing our Public Service Continuity Plan (PSCP) to ensure that the health and safety of its personnel and stakeholders remain protected during the pandemic.

Under the PSCP, public access to the agency’s facilities are extremely restricted.

All essential documentary submissions will be subjected to rigid disinfection procedures.

“However, we continue to encourage our stakeholders to conduct their transactions virtually as much as possible,” it said.

The department said all its personnel have been advised to strictly observe health and safety protocols (e.g. proper wearing of face masks and face shields, physical distancing, frequent washing and disinfecting of hands) at all times.

“The DOE is one with the nation in fighting this pandemic as we do our share in making our workplace environment safe not just for our employees, but for our stakeholders as well,” it said.

Topics: foreign nationals , Department of Health , Maria Rosario Vergeire
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