The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday said the coming few weeks would be crucial for the Philippines as the organization had observed an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospital occupancy, as quarantine restrictions were eased in several areas in the country.
Dr. Takeshi Kasai, WHO regional director for the Western Pacific, told ABS-CBN that while they recognize the Philippine government’s hard work in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, the numbers show continuing infections.
“In fact, the Philippines is one of the earliest countries to introduce a lockdown,” Kasai said, noting that this had prevented further infections and deaths.
The government earlier expressed displeasure over reports that the country seemed to have the fastest rising number of COVID-19 cases in the region, based on the WHO Western Pacific data.
Kasai did not directly answer the question on how the Philippines is faring compared to other countries. – Willie Casas
COVID-19 cases to 38,000
The Philippines’ tally of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases topped 38,000 on Wednesday after the Department of Health (DOH) reported 999 more infections—595 “fresh” or newly validated and 404 reported late—bringing the total to 38,511.
READ: Palace: 40,000 cases off mark; experts disagree
The death toll climbed to 1,270 with four new fatalities.
Total recoveries rose to 10,438 after 205 more patients recovered from the respiratory disease.
Among the fresh cases, 175 are from Metro Manila, 134 are from Region VII, while the remaining 286 are spread out across the country.
Among the late cases, 131 are from Metro Manila, 57 are from Region VII, while the 216 other patients came from various areas nationwide. – Willie Casas
Japan offers Y50 billion loan
The Japanese government will grant the Philippines a budget support loan of 50 billion yen or about P24 billion to bankroll the various government response efforts to control the COVID-19 pandemic.
The commitment came after Japanese Ambassador to Manila Haneda Koji and Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. signed and exchanged notes to formalize what they described as “COVID-19 Crisis Response Emergency Support Loan.”
“This 50 billion yen loan (approximately P24 billion) seeks to help curtail the spread of COVID-19 in the Philippines and shore up the government’s emergency response and economic stimulus by providing budgetary support,” the Japanese Embassy said in a statement.
The loan’s repayment period is set to 11 years after a grace period of four years, with a fixed interest rate of 0.01 percent per annum.
The loan will be co-financed with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) through its COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support (CARES) Program, the embassy statement added. – Rey E. Requejo and PNA
Government to hire 50,000 contact tracers
Malacañang on Wednesday said the government will set aside P17 billion to hire 50,000 COVID-19 contact tracers as part of the government’s measures to stop the spread of the deadly disease.
Palace spokesperson Harry Roque said contact tracers are important to prevent the spread of infections, but said Congress needs to pass Bayanihan 2 for the budget to be used.
He said the government should fund the hiring of the contact tracers since the easing of quarantine measures put everyone at a higher risk of being infected.
Stay at home advice remains
Residents in areas under low-risk modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) are still advised to refrain from going out of their homes for non-essential purposes, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said on Wednesday.
READ: NCR, Cebu City retain status
Vergeire’s warning was made after President Rodrigo Duterte placed the rest of the country under low-risk MGCQ protocol except for some 28 areas.
President Rodrigo Duterte placed several provinces under low-risk MGCQ starting July 1 until July 15. – Willie Casas
Drilon seeks to ease quarantine restrictions
WARNING any delay in the easing of quarantine restrictions in Metro Manila and Calabarzon region will cause further damage to our economy and the people, Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon wants to loosen quarantine restrictions in Metro Manila in these two economic centers.
Drilon on Wednesday aired his support for Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III’s recommendation to ease quarantine in MM and Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon) in order to rebuild the economy that was heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Metro Manila and Calabarzon are among the top two contributors to the national economy, adding that half of the country’s manufacturing special economic zones are located in Region IV-A. – Macon Ramos-Araneta
Rules out for court lockdowns
The Office of the Court Administrator on Wednesday said courts or halls of justice will not be locked down solely on the basis of rapid antibody tests for coronavirus.
In a circular issued on June 30, 2020, Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez said that courts exposed to a COVID-19 case will be closed for 14 days and immediately disinfected once the rapid test result is confirmed positive by a confirmatory swab test.
On the other hand, if the swab test yields a negative result, the court concerned should stay open and observe health and safety protocols.
While waiting for the results of the confirmatory test, the court administrator said, the concerned courts should conduct initial contact tracing. – Rey E. Requejo
Duterte praises Duque
President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Tuesday extolled Health Secretary Francisco Duque III for his competence in handling the COVID-19 outbreak.
Duque would not have been appointed as health chief had he shown any sign of incompetence, Duterte said in a public address aired over state-run PTV-4.
Duterte made the remarks amid the Ombudsman’s probe into alleged irregularities in the Department of Health’s (DOH) response to the Covid-19 crisis and calls among senators and lawmakers for Duque to resign. – PNA