VICE President Leni Robredo and all members of her staff reported back to work yesterday following the release of their test results showing they were negative of any COVID-19 infection.
She announced last Saturday that she and her staff were going on self-quarantine after being advised that they came in close contact with a person who later tested positive for the deadly virus.
On the recommendation of doctors, they underwent swab tests yesterday morning, or seven days after being exposed, and were immediately informed nobody was infected.
“All of the OVP staff who were exposed last week tested negative. Thank God!! All the activities today and the succeeding days will proceed as scheduled. Thank you all for your prayers and well wishes. They are very much appreciated,” Robredo said.
She also expressed gratitude to supporters who sent prayers and encouragement while she and her staff were on self-quarantine.
She said she felt no symptoms and was able to keep in touch with OVP personnel and volunteers on fieldwork through online apps.
Even while on quarantine, Robredo was able to coordinate the negotiations to provide assistance for Meranao farmers in Lanao del Sur for marketing their crops.
Under the agreement, the farmers will sell their vegetable produce to OVP point persons in the area and these will in turn form part of the OVP’s relief operations in the province.
Before going into self-imposed quarantine, Robredo was coming off what she called a “blockbuster week” wherein the OVP opened 13 community learning hubs in various areas of the country; delivered testing kits to Iloilo province and Iloilo City; and co-sponsored a skills training program for 1,000 out-of-school youth with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Philippine Business for Education (PBEd).
She also inspected community learning hubs in Pasig City and in Taytay, Rizal and held town hall meetings with “turo guro” or teacher volunteers and had a conference with Bayanihan Mart entrepreneurs for a livelihood program.
INFECTIONS RISE ANEW
After two straight days of less than 2,000 COVID-19 cases, the Health Department reported yesterday 2,053 new cases, raising the total of infections in the country to 375,180. Having the highest number of cases were Caloocan City (108), Quezon City (103), Negros Occidental (97), Benguet (93), and Rizal (85).
Sixty-one more deaths were also reported by the DOH, meaning the number of fatalities has risen to 7,114. This brought the case fatality rate in the country to 1.90 percent, said the DOH.
There were 540 recoveries, raising the number of survivors to 329,111. This means that 87.7 percent of the COVID patients have been able to recover.
The DOH also said that easing quarantine restrictions is a necessary risk that must be taken if the economy is to recover.
In an online press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they are fully aware of the risks that come with easing restrictions but stressed they needed for the sake of the economy.
Vergeire issued the statement in response to the warning issued by the OCTA Research Team of the University of the Philippines of a possible surge in infections due to eased restrictions in public transport.
OCTA warned that the number of infections may reach 500,000 by the end of November due to more people being able to take public transport and, in the process, spreading the dreaded virus.
“Alongside the gradual reopening of the economy and other sectors of the society, we expect these risks, the risk of seeing an increase in cases… We expect to have an increase in the number of cases because of the easing out of the restrictions,” said Vergeire.
“(But) we cannot remain in lockdown forever or we cannot remain to be paralyzed with fear forever, thus we are slowly lifting restrictions,” she added.
This, she stressed, is the reason why the government has been consistently harping on the importance of adhering to the minimum health standards against the virus.
“We have these safeguards, wherein people need to have a change in their behavior and comply with the minimum health standards. If only the people or the population will implement and comply with the minimum health standards, the infection will not be as transmissible as how it is before,” she said.
“We hope that our population will strictly follow the minimum health standards so that we can avoid seeing another surge in cases,” added Vergeire.
Vergeire also called on the public to adhere to minimum health standards, especially during ‘Undas’ when they travel to their provinces.
MOLECULAR LAB IN MUNTINLUPA
The Muntinlupa City government announced it is set to open its own molecular laboratory at the Ospital ng Muntinlupa that can process 100 COVID-19 tests per hour.
Mayor Jaime Fresnedi said the lab will help in the city’s detection-isolation-treatment strategy in curbing the spead of the virus.
He added that while the City Health Office has recorded an improvement in COVID cases, Muntinlupa will be strict in implementing health protocols and other programs.
OsMun director Dr. Edwin Dimatatac said the delivery of medical equipment is expected to be finished by the end of October and the laboratory will be operational next week in coordination with the Health Department. He said test results can be released within six hours.
The City Health Office has also launched a mobile swab testing in coordination with barangay health centers. As of October 26, the local health office has facilitated 19,307 swab tests equivalent to 3.57% of the city’s population. – With Noel Talacay