Prices of face shields have doubled with about five days left before government orders their mandatory use for all passengers in public transportation starting August 15.
READ: Commuters must wear face shields effective Aug. 15
Vendors in Divisoria, Manila's mercantile district, reported that face shields that used to sell at P18 per piece wholesale were now going for P40 each. Retail prices have gone as high as P50 for the most basic face shields, they added.
In the southern commercial district of Baclaran, vendors noted that their face mask supply has been dwindling, as people have been buying in bulk to resell them in their respective areas.
"Some buy 1,000 pieces, others 500, they would sell it too," Baclaran retailer Russell Selpan said in a GMA News report.
Last week, the Department of Transportation released a Memorandum Circular mandating the use of face shields —aside from wearing face masks—in any mode of public transportation service effective August 15.
This developed as Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on Monday said face shields would serve as additional layer of protection against the coronavirus disease, particularly in areas where some people do not observe physical distancing.
“Wherever there are a lot of people, and you can't maintain the two-meter distance, face shields can help," Año said in a television interview.
Año said the use of face shields is also encouraged not only in public transport vehicles but public areas such as markets, hospitals, quarantine facilities, and workplaces.
He said that even inside the house, family members should practice physical distancing and wear face masks to avoid COVID-19 transmission.
P2.4 billion allotted for vaccines
The government has allotted an initial budget of P2.4 billion for COVID-19 vaccines, the Department of Health (DOH) said Monday.
“We already prepared a budget for that, and part of the budget is for 2021. We allocated P2.4 billion for COVID-19 vaccines,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a virtual briefing.
“But of course, it will depend on the price and how much we can procure. The budget will be increased. But that’s the initial amount that we set aside for next year’s budget,” she added.
Vergeire reiterated an earlier announcement that 20 million Filipinos, or a fifth of the population, will get the vaccine, which will require 40 million doses since the vaccine will come in two doses.
Vergeire said the DOH is still working with the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Foreign Affairs and Department of Finance on the procurement of the vaccine once it is approved.
READ: Duterte volunteers to test Moscow's experimental vaccineFace masks at home recommended
The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday advised the public to wear face masks even at home, especially if a family member has symptoms of COVID-19.
The DOH advice was made after Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said that household members should wear personal protective equipment (PPE) at home because COVID-19 transmission is now through families.
DOH said members of a household must wear masks under these conditions:
1. If there is a symptomatic person in the household; and 2. If there is a member of the household that is part of the vulnerable population, referring to senior citizens, people with pre-existing medical conditions, or those with a compromised immune system.
The DOH said that wearing a face mask and other PPEs can reduce a person’s risk of COVID-19 transmission by at least 85 percent.
COVID-19 updates delayed
The Department of Health (DOH) said on Monday an "unexpected system error” will delay the announcement of updates in the number COVID-19 cases.
The DOH said the error caused non-inclusion of new patients in the database of COVIDKAYA, a case and contact tracing reporting system for epidemiology and surveillance officers and health care providers.
The agency's case bulletin is usually released at 4 p.m. daily.
"The problem has been addressed but it entails additional time to process the recently extracted data," DOH said in a statement.
"We are investigating the root cause in the system and will ensure that measures are in place to avoid this incident in the future."
The Philippines as of Sunday reported 129,913 cases of COVID-19, with 67,673 recoveries and 2,270 deaths.
Non-reporting labs face sanctions
The Department of Health (DOH) said on Monday it will impose stricter guidelines in the submission of COVID-19 case files by laboratories and other reporting units, and considering sanctions against those that do not comply.
“Today, we will be issuing out a memo to all concerned laboratories so that all will be informed that this is really a requirement and it’s part of their licensing requirements,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a virtual briefing.
“This is the obligation of each reporting unit, especially [because] this is a public health emergency. It’s a notifiable disease, this COVID-19,” Vergeire said.
She said only 70 percent of Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) laboratories processing COVID-19 test results are able to submit their daily reports on COVID-19 cases on time.
No ban on rapid antibody tests
The Department of Health (DPH) will not ban the use of rapid antibody testS for COVID-19 as these can be effective for those who already recovered from the disease, Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire said Monday.
Vergeire was referring to the rapid antibody test which tests individuals for antibodies IgM (immunoglobulin) and IgG (immunoglobulin G).
Testing positive for IgM is a sign of active COVID-19 infection while testing positive for IgG indicates that a person had recently recovered.
Earlier, Dr. Antonio Dans of the Philippine Society of General Internal Medicine earlier said rapid tests should not be used anymore since they can give the public a false sense of security when they produce false negaives.
But Vergeire said rapid tests need not be banned, but used appropriately.
Hospital stops taking in expecting moms
Manila City Mayor Francisco “Isko” Domagoso on Monday said that the Justice Jose Abad Santos General Hospital (JJASGH) has temporarily stopped admitting new non-COVID OB patients as its occupancy rate has already reached its capacity.
The temporary halt is indefinite, but it will allow the hospital to decongest, to maintain physical distancing of patients, to avoid potential complications and to protect its staff.
"We closed our acceptance of those giving birth because we have already breached our load capacity (sa JJASGH)," Domagoso said in a statement.
Clear policies needed, Gordon says
Senator Richard J. Gordon on Monday called for defined policies for responding to COVID-19 that are currently lacking in local government.
Gordon made the call after the Philippine Red Cross, where he is chairman and CEO, rescued a COVID-19 positive nurse who was kicked out of her boarding house and seen roaming the streets of Makati.
“This is a story of discrimination. Don’t do this to your fellow Filipino. We should help all people. It seems the policy of the government is wrong. A nurse whom we use in fighting COVID-19, it appears the government has no policy on this,” said Gordon.
He lamented that the barangays have not been trained so the would know what to do in that case.
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