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House approves budget for COVID-19 response below amount prescribed by DOH

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House approves budget for COVID-19 response below amount prescribed by DOH
This March 8, 2020 photo shpws the Manila Center for Infectious Disease Control located on the 10th floor of the Sta. Ana Hospital in Manila. The facility will serve as another holding area for patients suspected of carrying new coronavirus.
The STAR / Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines — The House committee on appropriations on Tuesday approved a P1.6-billion budget to bolster the country's response to the worsening novel coronavirus (COVID-19) scare. 

This comes after lawmakers of the lower chamber approved the unanimous passage of the yet to be numbered bill allocating the funds from the National Treasury to the Department of Health. 

At the bill's hearing, though, Health Undersecretary Roger Tong-an said that the department needed a total of P3.1 billion to address the threat of COVID-19, almost double the actual amount approved for them. 

Of this amount, he said, P2.35 billion would go into the procurement of protective equipment, P933 million would be allocated for the Bureau of Quarantine and P139 million would go to tests conducted by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).

A string of new cases have been confirmed in the country as the Department of Health (DOH) acknowledged local transmission of the new virus after the first three patients were only listed as imported cases. 

On Monday, the number of confirmed cases doubled from 10 to 20, eventually hitting 24 after President Rodrigo Duterte disclosed the new count in a speech that night. 

READ: Duterte signs proclamation declaring state of public emergency

That same day, the president signed a proclamation declaring a state of public health emergency in the country to facilitate the mobilization of resources, the intensifying of quarantine measures and ease of processes.

According to Tong-an, the budget could be outsourced from other agencies. He mentioned that the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office had expressed their intent to afford the department around P420 million while the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation would be able to fund P2 billion. 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

NOVEL CORONAVIRUS

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: August 15, 2022 - 12:51pm

Follow this page for updates on a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.

August 15, 2022 - 12:51pm

A health disaster has been declared on the Marshall Islands after the fast-spreading Covid variant Omicron infected more than a tenth of residents in the capital Majuro in one week.

Since a handful of positive community cases were confirmed on August 8, the numbers have skyrocketed to 2,800 in a city of 22,500.

"We're gearing up for the hardest part of the outbreak right now in Majuro," Health Secretary Jack Niedenthal said Monday.

Thanks to strict quarantine rules, the Marshalls Islands was one of the last countries to stay Covid-free.

"The good thing about having all these other countries go before us is we really understand epidemiologically how this variant of the virus spreads: like wildfire," Niedenthal added.

On Friday, the Marshalls' President David Kabua signed a "State of Health Disaster" to give the government access to emergency funding.

So far, there have been 3,000 positive cases in a population of around 42,000 across the islands and atolls that comprise the Marshalls. -- AFP

August 11, 2022 - 9:01am

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declares a "shining victory" over COVID-19, after officials reported no new cases of the virus for nearly two weeks.

Presiding over a meeting with health workers and scientists, Kim announces a "victory... in the war against the malignant pandemic disease," according to the government news agency KCNA.

The isolated country, which has maintained a rigid coronavirus blockade since the start of the pandemic, announced an Omicron outbreak in the capital Pyongyang in May and activated a "maximum emergency epidemic prevention system". — AFP

July 30, 2022 - 12:45pm

North Korea reports zero fever cases on Saturday for the first time in more than two months since it confirmed its first COVID-19 infections in May.

"There were no new fever patients reported" over a 24-hour period from Thursday evening, the state-run Korean Central News Agency says, marking the first time the isolated country had reported no new cases since it began tallying numbers in May.

While it has maintained a rigid coronavirus blockade since the start of the pandemic, experts have said that massive Omicron outbreaks in neighbouring countries meant it was only a matter of time before Covid snuck in. — AFP

July 27, 2022 - 5:46pm

According to a pair of new studies in the journal Science that claimed to have tipped the balance in the debate about the virus' origins, an animal market in China's Wuhan really was the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Answering the question of whether the disease spilled over naturally from animals to humans, or was the result of a lab accident, is viewed as vital to averting the next pandemic and saving millions of lives.

The first paper analyzed the geographic pattern of COVID-19 cases in the outbreak's first month, December 2019, showing the first cases were tightly clustered around Wuhan's Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. — AFP

July 17, 2022 - 2:01pm

Macau is set to begin another working week of partial lockdown, after the city extended the closure of its casinos and non-essential businesses to try and eradicate its worst coronavirus outbreak yet. 

Authorities had announced a week of "static management" starting June 11 after recording more than 1,500 infections in the previous three weeks despite multiple rounds of compulsory mass testing of the city's population.

The restrictions had been due to lift on Monday, but cases have continued to climb, with the Macau government saying Sunday there had been 1,733 cases recorded since the start of the outbreak. 

Daily case numbers are comparatively small by global standards, but authorities have moved quickly to stamp out transmission as they adhere to mainland China's strict zero-Covid policy. 

On Saturday the government announced that the "static management" period would be extended through Friday.  -- AFP

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