Palace explains: No mass testing but ‘expanded targeted testing’

Herminio L. Roque, Jr.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. — PHILSTAR

PALACE Spokesperson Harry L. Roque on Tuesday explained that an “expanded targeted testing” is a priority measure to curb coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) transmissions after receiving public backlash on his Monday statement that the government will not be conducting mass testing. Mr. Roque said this strategy is in line with international guidelines on testing. “We test those who need to be tested, dahil hindi lang iyong mga gustong magpa-test (not just those who want to be tested).” The expanded targeted testing covers critical or severe cases, mild cases but vulnerable, mild cases not vulnerable, and those who are asymptomatic, with close contact or with a history of travel. The government has a testing capacity of more than 11,000 per day as of May 15 and is aiming for 30,000 by the end of the month. On Monday, Mr. Roque was quoted as saying that the government “does not have a mass testing program” and that it will “leave it up to the private sector.” — Gillian M. Cortez

DoH guidelines reiterate testing of returning workers to be covered by employer

THE Department of Health (DoH) on Tuesday released guidelines for companies that will resume operations, which include a provision that testing of returning workers should be covered by employers. The same rule is indicated in guidelines issued by the Labor and Trade departments on Monday. Palace Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, who announced the DoH Interim Guidelines on Return to Work in a briefing, said among the required health and cleanliness protocols are regular disinfection and proper ventilation at the workplace. “Yung engineering and administrative control measures, dapat lahat po ay siguraduhin ng employer na ang workplace ay maayos na na-disinfect, ventilated at na-maintain (The engineering and administrative control measures, the employer should ensure that everything in the workplace is orderly, disinfected, ventilated, and maintained),” he said. Employers are also required to keep a record of employees who reported to the workplace and a referral network should be established if they show symptoms of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Symptomatic workers are not allowed to return to work while those without symptoms but have travel history within the last 14 days of work resumption will have to show a certificate of quarantine completion. Employers, at their cost, can test their employees for COVID-19, especially those whose nature of work puts them at risk of contracting the virus. — Gillian M. Cortez

Typhoon Vongfong damage to crops hits P1.14 billion

CROP damage caused by typhoon Vongfong has reached P1.14 billion with 37,714 farmers and fisherfolk affected, the Department of Agriculture (DA) reported Tuesday. In a bulletin, DA said the most affected areas were the regions of CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon Province), Bicol, Eastern Visayas, Central Luzon, Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), and MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan). Production losses from the typhoon, locally named Ambo, has reached 65,824 metric tons (MT), with 25,404 hectares of agricultural areas affected across six regions. Among agricultural commodities, high-value crops such as bananas, assorted vegetables, and papayas were the hardest hit, amounting to 69% of total damage and losses at P793.15 million. Other damaged crops include rice, which accounted for 16% at 184.58 million, followed by corn at 10%, equivalent to P117.11 million. Losses from the fisheries sector amounted to P25.47 million while livestock damage is at P23.39 million. The DA said it is preparing its P700-million Quick Response Fund for interventions in the affected areas. The DA, through the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC), will provide an initial P90.5-million fund for the indemnification of about 11,500 farmers and fishermen who availed of insurance coverage. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave