Kids could be ‘superspreaders’ of virus—doctor

Children can become superspreaders if they are allowed to go outside their homes during the holidays, Dr. Anthony Leachon, a former adviser of the government's pandemic task force, said on Monday.

Leachon made the remark as President Rodrigo Duterte was set to announce quarantine measures for the last month of the year.

"They say the holiday season is about kids and children but I think if they will be allowed to roam around and visit the malls they will be the ones to carry the virus at home. They will be the superspreaders and they will affect their parents and grandparents so this is dangerous," he told ANC's Headstart.

"This has been happening in other countries where the children are actually the superspreaders in the home and in other areas,” he said.

There will be a "confluence" of COVID-19 problems in the remaining month of the year, Leachon said.

"We’re not yet out of the woods given the social mobility that will be happening in the last quarter of the year because of the holiday season. And there will be some after effects of the typhoon because some of the citizens in evacuation centers," Leachon said.

"If we will consider the temperature, I have a projection it might actually be a problem also because as you approach the holiday season the temperature will drop. And based on experience and overindulgence over the holiday season, you might also experience an uptick of cardiovascular cases and these are more vulnerable to COVID infection,” he said.

Gradual rise

The OCTA Research Team earlier warned the country may see a gradual rise of COVID-19 cases as virus infections climbed in many parts of the country.

Metro Manila mayors have recommended to the national government to keep the capital region under general community quarantine which limits gatherings to a maximum of 10 people and allows ages 15 to 65 to go outside their homes.

The "single-most effective intervention measure" is physical distancing, Leachon said.

"And then of course you have the face shield and face masks, which are very effective in terms of curbing transmission," he said.

Areas of concern

A group of academic experts has classified the National Capital Region (NCR) and seven other places as areas of concern due to a spike in COVID-19 cases.

The OCTA Research Team has listed the NCR, Davao del Sur, Quezon, Negros Occidental, Pampanga, Bulacan, Misamis Oriental and Western Samar under areas of concern, according to the group’s latest monitoring report.

The  OCTA Research Team also categorized the cities of Makati, Lucena, Batangas, Davao and Pagadian as high-risk areas owing to high cases per day, positivity rate, attack rate, and/or high hospital occupancy for the  November 22 to 28 period.

“In the high-risk LGUs [local government units] identified in the NCR and other LGUs around the country, we urge the LGUs concerned to further intensify their efforts at testing, tracing, and isolation to reverse the increase in transmissions in their communities,” the OCTA Research Team said.

The OCTA Research team is composed of experts from the University of the Philippines, University of Santo Tomas and Providence College in the United States.

NCR under GCQ

The OCTA Research Team also asked the government to keep NCR under general community quarantine until the end of the year and consider a stricter quarantine status for certain areas around the country that continue to have significant outbreaks and with hospitals already at full capacity.

Metro Manila’s reproduction number increased to 0.87 from 0.83 previously, but remained below 1 for the November 22 to 28 period, the researchers said.

The reproduction number indicates the average number of people who may contract COVID-19 from an infected person.

“The rise in the reproduction number in the NCR, while a cause of concern is not surprising. However, the situation in the NCR is still manageable and should not be a cause for alarm,” OCTA Research said.

Price range

The price range set for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to confirm COVID-19 patients will be implemented beginning Monday, the Department of Health (DOH) said.

“Today is the official effectivity of this Department Circular on (PCR test) price range,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said during a Laging Handa briefing.

Earlier, a  COVID-19 PCR test costs as much as P10,000, depending on speed of results.

The  government also earlier released a joint administrative order of the DOH and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) regulating the prices of PCR tests.

In a separate Department Circular released on Friday, the DOH set the price for government facilities at P3,800 while private laboratories may charge P4,500 to P5,000 for every PCR test.

Swab test fees

The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) on Sunday said it would lower its fees for COVID-19 swab testing by P200 to P3,800 effective Tuesday, December 1, 2020.

This plan is to encourage more testing for the disease moving forward.

The PRC said its testing fees would be lowered to P3,800 from P4,000 for private clients, walk-ins, and inbound passengers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

The PRC would charge P4,800 for a faster turnaround time of 12 to 24 hours. For local government units (LGUs), the PRC will charge P3,300 and institutions P4,800.

Hazard pay

Healthcare workers of the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (PGH) will continue to protest until they receive their overdue COVID-19 benefits, a workers' union said on Monday.

PGH’s frontliners have yet to receive their hazard pay and special risk allowance (SRA) under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act which covered the period March 17 to May 31, according to Karen Faurillo, president of All UP Workers Union-Manila.

They will receive P500 or the amount of their usual hazard pay, whichever is higher, per day of duty and an SRA of 25 percent of their basic pay if they worked for 18 days or more during the period covered, Faurillo said.

The hospital currently admits less than 100 virus patients but is taking on cases of other illnesses, Faurillo said.

Additional funds

Senator Risa Hontiveros pushed for additional funds in the 2021 National Budget of the Department of Health for the immediate rebuilding of COVID-19 testing and isolation facilities that were damaged by the recent typhoons.

Hontiveros said that these facilities remained ‘crucial’ to our COVID-19 response.

She said that the additional DOH budget would go to rebuilding typhoon-hit facilities in Bicol Region considered ‘completely non-functional’.

Areas that lost their facilities (Camarines Sur, Albay, Camarines Norte) also had the highest number of infections in the region, she added.

“Testing and isolation are two of the most important steps in our fight against COVID-19. Any delay in the restoration of these facilities could be a major setback in our progress," she said.

Health workers

The Department of Health on Sunday reported that 391 more health workers contracted  COVID-19 over the past week, bringing the total to 12,412 as of November 28.

In its daily COVID-19 report, the DOH said total recoveries among health workers rose to 12,083 after 402 more recovered from the respiratory disease.

The death toll climbed to 75 with four new fatalities. The other 253 medical worker cases were active cases undergoing treatment or quarantine.

The five medical professions with the highest number of COVID-19 cases are nurses with 4,420 infections, doctors with 2,122, nursing assistants with 947, medical technologists with 612, and midwives with 390 cases.

Topics: children , superspreaders , virus , Anthony Leachon , Rodrigo Duterte
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