Nationwide round-up

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Test kits from Singapore


SINGAPORE Ambassador to the Philippines Gerard Ho checks boxes containing COVID-19 test kits that arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on March 24, before turning these over on the same day to the Philippine government through Foreign Affairs Secretary Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. Singapore donated 3,000 test kits and one Polymerase Chain Reaction Machine.

Law gives Duterte emergency powers for 3 months

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte signed into law on Tuesday Republic Act No. 11469, or the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act,” which gives him emergency powers in managing the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the country. The law is valid for three months. During a late night briefing on Tuesday, Mr. Duterte said, “To the members of both houses of Congress who sponsored and voted for this measure, I express my sincerest gratitude to all of you for granting our most urgent requests. Finally, the Executive Department can move, decide and act freely for the best interest of the Filipino people during this health crisis.” Among the law’s provisions are the immediate testing of persons under investigation and monitoring of the disease, and mandating establishments to serve as quarantine sites or housing for frontliners such as health workers. The procurement of personal protective equipment and other medical supplies will also be expedited and exempt from taxes and other fees. Families from low-income households will be provided subsidies and other assistance. — Gillian M. Cortez

Agri workers, fisherfolk, vets exempted from quarantine

AGRICULTURE workers and veterinarians have been included in the list of exemptions from the mandatory home quarantine imposed by the government in Luzon to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a ranking police official said Wednesday. Lt. Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar, Philippine National Police (PNP) deputy chief for operations, said among those allowed to travel within the quarantine areas are farmers, fishermen and employees of agricultural supply stores and outlets. Mr. Eleazar, who heads the joint task force COVID-19 Shield, said the policy adjustment is to ensure steady food supply in Luzon. Aside from agricultural workers, veterinarians and employees of veterinary clinics have also been included. The agriculture industry group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have appealed for the inclusion of their sector as essential personnel under the current state of emergency. — Emmanuel Tupas/PHILSTAR and Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

PMA rejects automatic licensing of medical graduates

THE PHILIPPINE Medical Association (PMA) rejected the proposal to automatically issue licenses to medical graduates without taking the board exam to beef up manpower amid the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). PMA Vice President Benito P. Atienza, in a radio interview Wednesday, said medical students can still volunteer to help even without a license. The proposal came from Senator Francis N. Tolentino who, in a statement Monday, asked the Professional Regulation Commission to waive the licensure examination of new physicians, which has been postponed from its March 1 schedule with more than 1,500 graduates registered to take it. — Genshen L. Espedido