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Eastern Visayas lab upgrades Covid-19 testing capacity

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Manila, June 3 — The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday announced that the Eastern Visayas molecular laboratory here could now process up to 700 diagnostic tests per day for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

In a statement, DOH 8 (Eastern Visayas) Assistant Director Exuperia Sabalberino said the laboratory has an automated extraction machine and an additional unit of a real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) machine, used in detecting the actual presence of the virus.

“Without the machine, an extraction process takes four hours. Since it is now automated, it only takes an hour. So, from a maximum of 93 tests per shift before, the laboratory can now run 500 to 700 tests per day,” Sabalberino said.

The health department appealed to local government units to augment their test kits in anticipation of more returning residents and repatriation of overseas Filipino workers.

“As of the moment, we have enough test kits, but we need to augment our supply for continuous and uninterrupted operation of our laboratory. The test kits are not available here and we don’t yet have a regular flight to Metro Manila,” she said.

On May 11, the state-run laboratory located at the old building of the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center has started performing Covid-19 tests after receiving its certification from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Manila.

Since the outbreak of Covid-19 in the country, a total of 45 cases have been confirmed in Eastern Visayas, including 25 recoveries and zero death.

Of the total cases, 32 are from Samar, 11 from Leyte, one from Northern Samar, and one from Biliran province.For any query with respect to this article or any other content requirement, please contact Editor at contentservices@htlive.com
Copyright 2012. Philippines News Agency

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Iloilo town traces 200 contacts of Covid-positive councilor

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Manila, June 3 — The Contact Tracing Task Force of Igbaras town, Iloilo has identified and located all the 200 contacts of the 55-year-old male municipal councilor who tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) on Monday.

Of these contacts, 50 were already swabbed on Tuesday and the other 50 were swabbed Wednesday, Igbaras Mayor Jaime Esmeralda, told the Philippine News Agency in an interview.

Another batch of 100 contacts will also undergo Covid-19 swab testing on Thursday, he said.

“I confirm that our positive case is an SB (Sanggunian Bayan) member and almost all our local government unit personnel are identified as high-risk contacts,” said Esmeralda, who is also a medical doctor.

The Covid-19 positive councilor has also undergone re-swabbing on Tuesday as the mayor wants to confirm his test result.

Esmeralda said the councilor stayed in Igbaras for two and a half months but went once to Iloilo City last May 1.

He is considering the possibility that the councilor might have caught the infection from an asymptomatic carrier in Igbaras.

“I have a little doubt (in the positive result). If we say it’s a false positive, it is a very little chance. We will see the result again in his re-test to confirm,” he said.

The reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test of the councilor, along with other LGU personnel and contacts, will be processed at the Western Visayas Medical Center sub-national laboratory.

Due to the town’s Covid-19 case, transactions in the local government has been paralyzed since Tuesday.

Esmeralda said “almost all” of the LGU personnel, including him, will have to observe quarantine and would be monitored for signs and symptoms.

“All the transactions in the municipal hall are suspended because almost all our personnel are under monitoring. We will resume work after a week or until such time that we can assure safety and the absence of local transmission,” he said.

The municipal hall is also being subjected to disinfection, he said.For any query with respect to this article or any other content requirement, please contact Editor at contentservices@htlive.com
Copyright 2012. Philippines News Agency

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Resort owners told to observe safety standards

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Manila, June 3 — Resort owners and other tourism stakeholders in Antique on Wednesday were reminded to strictly observe health and safety standards as the industry reopens in the province.

“Safe physical distancing, continuous sanitation, and disinfecting should be observed by owners of the tourism facilities in the province,” Antique Provincial Tourism Office (APTO) head, Juan Carlos Perlas, said in an interview.

To ensure safe physical distancing, they are also instructed to only accommodate 50 percent of their guest capacity, he said.

“We would have to start from the bottom with new rules, but we are optimistic for Antique has always been different from usual places, laid back and without the large crowd,” he said.

He said protocols amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) crisis really affected the tourism industry in the province.

Based on the data provided by the APTO, some 210 tourism facilities temporarily closed since the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine in Antique last March 16.

But Perlas is optimistic the beautiful beaches and other tourist spots of Antique will bounce back as these are not yet that crowded, which could be one of the preferences of visitors.

Meanwhile, Flord Nickson Calawag, who owns the Calawag Mountain Resort in Barangay Tono, Tibiao, in a separate interview, said that they were forced to let go half of their staff because of the lockdown.

“We used to have 50 staff but we had to downsize our workforce due to Covid-19,” Calawag said.

He said their resort reopened only last June 1 when the province entered the modified general community quarantine following the issuance of Executive Order 65 of Governor Rhodora Cadiao.

“With the reopening of the resort, we are practicing safe physical distancing even no physical contact with our guests,” he said.

He said that guests are required to wash their hands upon arrival and those who are coughing or with fever will not be allowed inside the resort.

Calawag added that they adhere to Memorandum Circular Number 2020-002 of the Department of Tourism (DOT) that details health and safety guidelines on the operations of accommodation establishments under the new normal.

The reopening of the Calawag Mountain Resort’s fish spa, rubber tubing, and other adventure activities have started luring tourists.

“We hope our domestic tourists would be more encouraged to visit and promote the local destinations,” he said.

Since Antique is now part of the One Panay Community Quarantine starting June 1, residents of Panay Island would be enticed to visit the Calawag Mountain Resort and other destinations in the province, Calawag added.For any query with respect to this article or any other content requirement, please contact Editor at contentservices@htlive.com
Copyright 2012. Philippines News Agency

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SAP beneficiaries in Pangasinan to get second tranche

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MALASIQUI, June 3 — Only the household beneficiaries in Pangasinan will receive the second tranche of the social amelioration program (SAP) among the provinces in the entire Ilocos Region, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) confirmed on Wednesday.

In a forum, DSWD regional director Marcelo Nicomedes Castillo said based on the guidelines, only Pangasinan qualified for the second tranche since the province was among those areas that remained under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) until May 15, while the other provinces of La Union, Ilocos Norte, and Ilocos Sur were removed from ECQ and placed under general community quarantine since May 1.

Castillo, however, clarified that the total 433,429 household beneficiaries in the province might be lessened depending on the result of the extensive validation the DSWD is currently conducting.

“If upon validation, the beneficiaries will be proven not qualified, then they will be removed from the list who will receive the second tranche,” he said.

Each qualified household beneficiary in Pangasinan will again receive PHP5,500.

The schedule of the release of the second tranche is still to be announced.

In the entire Ilocos Region, a total of 777,375 SAP household beneficiaries received the first tranche of the emergency cash subsidy amounting to a total of PHP4.275 billion, but only 110 local government units (LGUs) have fully completed distribution.

“The other 15 LGUs have not fully completed distribution because the allocation for them exceeded the number of qualified beneficiaries in their area,” Castillo said.

He added that LGUs are now in the liquidation process of the SAP funds.

“We thank the LGUs including the barangay officials, the staff, among others because amidst the hardships they were able to finish the distribution,” he said.

Meanwhile, some 57,841 households will also receive emergency cash subsidies as additional SAP beneficiaries, or formerly called the ‘waitlisted’.

“These are qualified beneficiaries who were not included in the list of SAP beneficiaries. The lists of names were submitted by their respective LGUs, but these are still for validation,” Castillo said.

He said the LGUs have submitted a total of 59,963 names, more than the allocated number of additional beneficiaries in the region, hence the validation will filter and possibly reduce the number.

LGUs in Ilocos Norte submitted 1,693 additional beneficiaries, Ilocos Sur with 5,031, La Union with 3,663, and Pangasinan with 49,576.

Castillo said they are still waiting for the criteria and specific guidelines for the release of the subsidy to the additional beneficiaries.For any query with respect to this article or any other content requirement, please contact Editor at contentservices@htlive.com
Copyright 2012. Philippines News Agency

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