People wait in line to get inside the Muntinlupa City Public Market on April 16 as the local government starts the strict implementation of physical distancing and set dates for shopping on a per barangay basis. The restrictions will be in effect until April 30.
Congestion at Manila port eases
CONGESTION at the Port of Manila has started to ease after weeks of container overcrowding resulting from the quarantine measures imposed to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Customs Deputy Commissioner Vincent C. Maronilla said. In a briefing Wednesday, Mr. Maronilla said they are already seeing normalization in yard utilization at the Manila South Harbor and the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT). “Simula last week, mukhang nag-no-normalize ‘yung ating yard utilization. As of yesterday, ‘yung yard utilization of the Port of Manila ay tumaas ng konti to 70% at ganun din sa MICT pero within the normal ang percentages na ‘yun (Since last week, it looks like yard utilization has normalized. As of yesterday, yard utilization went up to 70% and it’s the same for MICT, which are within normal percentages),” he said. The Philippine Ports Authority warned late last month that it might have to close down the Port of Manila due to the huge number of overstaying cargoes. — Gillian M. Cortez
In COVID-free Bohol, governor warns of insufficient medical equipment in case of outbreak
BOHOL Governor Arthur C. Yap said the province “must hold on to its defense” as the threat of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) remains “very high” while the local medical system is not equipped to handle a surge in cases. The island province has maintained a zero COVID-19 situation after recording one positive patient, a Chinese tourist who has since recovered and left in late January. In a statement following the declaration of a lockdown extension to April 30, Mr. Yap said “the highly-contagious nature” of the virus has been “well documented and a single infected individual’s capacity to start an epidemic is real,” quoting a position paper from the province’s medical technical team. He said while the province has been undertaking all preventive measures — setting up quarantine sites, imposing mandatory isolation for returning residents, among others — the reality is that existing medical facilities and equipment would be unable to handle an outbreak. “At this time, our number of personal protective equipment (PPE) is inadequate to protect all our health workers in the event of a surge of cases. Our intensive care equipment such as ventilators are not enough to handle an increase in severe cases should the influx be too sudden,” he said. Mr. Yap said they are hopeful that mass testing would be more readily available by the time the quarantine measures are lifted. “With mass testing, we hope to be able to isolate COVID-19 cases more efficiently while allowing the rest of the society to slowly go back to normal activities.” — Marifi S. Jara
More Mindanao LGUs adopt online medical consultation service
THE Sarangani Provincial Health Office has launched a 24/7 consultation program that would allow medical experts to “evaluate, diagnose and treat patients” via telephone and eventually online. In a press statement Thursday, the provincial government said the service, which is available in six health care facilities, “will allow those who are ill to call and consult with medical personnel regarding their symptoms without having to check-in at hospital.” The program is in line with the quarantine measures to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). PHO head Arvin C. Alejandro said they intend to keep the service even after the COVID-19 pandemic has been contained. “Even without a COVID-19 state of emergency, we will be sustaining this service in all our hospitals in the province… (it) is already a portion of what is being required in our Universal Health Care Act which focuses on the strengthening of the primary health care services,” he said. Sarangani still has no COVID-19 case as of April 15. In Mati City, the capital of Davao Oriental, the local government is offering “telepsychology sessions” through the Acute Psychiatric Care Unit of its City Health Office. The program is in coordination with the Southern Philippines Medical Center, the biggest government-run hospital in Mindanao. The Davao de Oro provincial government has also rolled out a mobile and online messaging platform that would allow residents seeking medical help to contact health professionals.
Meanwhile, the Davao regional task force on COVID-19 has extended the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) for a week, putting restrictions in effect until April 26. Davao City Mayor Sara Z. Duterte-Carpio, chair of the regional body, said the extension was decided upon based on the advice of health authorities. “They (experts) saw that if we would work as a region, there is a better effect in terms of numbers (flattening the curve of COVID-19 cases),” said Ms. Carpio over the city’s radio channel. The University of the Philippines-Mindanao’s Interdisciplinary Applied Modeling laboratory researchers also published a report indicating the need to extend the ECQ, with a recommendation for until end-April. — Carmelito Q. Francisco