Face-to-face classes OKâd for medical programs
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Face-to-face classes OK’d for medical programs

Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - January 27, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte has allowed limited face-to-face classes in schools offering medical and allied programs to ensure the availability of properly trained health workers, as the country continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the approval covers higher educational institutions in places under the most lenient modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) and general community quarantine with base hospitals that serve COVID-19 patients.

“This is to ensure that we won’t run out of doctors,” Roque said at a press briefing yesterday.

“The reason why the training of doctors was allowed to continue is obvious because if we do not allow it to continue, there would come a time that we would have no graduates and at the time of pandemic, we need all the doctors we can have,” he added.

Roque noted that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Office of the Executive Secretary have also allowed the resumption of face-to-face clinical internship program of the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital.

Most of the provinces and cities in the Philippines are now under MGCQ, where restrictions on businesses, transportation and social gatherings are more relaxed.

Only Metro Manila, Santiago City, Batangas, Tacloban City, Iligan City, Lanao del Sur, Davao City and Davao del Norte are classified as GCQ areas. Malacañang is expected to announce the quarantine groupings for February before the end of the month.

Duterte initially allowed the education department to conduct a pilot implementation of face-to-face classes in low-risk areas but took it back following the detection of the new and more infectious COVID-19 strain.

In his weekly recorded televised address on Monday, President Duterte said the country may turn to prayer to keep COVID-19 cases from growing further and reaching the one million mark, especially with the detection of new variants.

“So, we continue to pray. Here, it is still rising; more than 500,000 have been affected. It would not reach millions because then we would be in serious trouble,” Duterte said.

“We would be no better than the other countries whose rise are really exponential,” he added.

He reiterated the need for everyone to strictly observe health protocols. “Wearing mask helps. It does not provide actually 100 percent. We’re not saying you’re completely safe if you wear mask, but you’ll reduce it by about…I’m not a medical person – it will give you something like 80 percent,” he said.

“I hope that you would be religious in obeying the injunctions from our medical persons simply because we are trying to save our country,” Duterte added.

At a meeting with the President, Health Sec. Francisco Duque III expressed concern that several areas have reported critical level health care utilization rate.

The areas include Davao de Oro, Compostela Valley, Baguio City, Nueva Vizcaya and Agusan del Norte.

With an additional 1,173 cases yesterday, the DOH reported that confirmed COVID-19 cases nationwide have risen to 516,166.

DOH said 92.1 percent or 475,423 of the total cases have recuperated, including 18 newly reported recoveries.

Active cases stand at 30,357 or 5.9 percent of the total cases. More than 93 percent of the active cases are mild or asymptomatic.

Cebu City logged the biggest number of new cases with 84, followed by Davao City with 67 and Cavite with 51.

Quezon City ranked fourth in the list of areas with high number of new cases with 47, followed by Rizal with 41.

COVID-related deaths jumped to 10,386 with the addition of 94 more fatalities. Nine laboratories failed to submit data.

In an interview with One News’ The Chiefs Monday night, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said negotiations are continuing for the procurement of COVID vaccines.

A master list for those receiving COVID vaccines is set to be completed by the end of the month.

She said some of the vaccines are expected to be delivered by Feb. 20 and preparations are also underway to ensure the availability of cold storage.

“We don’t have any preference at all. If there is an emergency use authority issued by the FDA, that is acceptable to us already,” she stressed.

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