KUWTT: Govt reviews policy amid virus surge Mar 08, 2021

Good day. Here are the top stories for The Manila Times for Monday, March 8, 2021.

READ: Govt reviews policy amid virus surge

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) is reexamining its decision to ease quarantine restrictions after the country recorded over 3,000 new coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases in a single day last week.

National Task Force against Covid-19 Deputy Chief Implementer and testing czar Vince Dizon said there was a need to review the government’s policy favoring the reopening of more businesses and allowing the freer movement of people to speed up economic recovery. He said the government is reviewing the decisions made in the past weeks because the situation was different when they made decisions to ease restrictions.

READ: Covid-19 admissions in PGH increase

There is a “steady increase” of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) patients being treated at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH). PGH spokesman Dr. Jonas del Rosario on Sunday said that the increase in Covid admissions prompted the hospital to suspend walk-in outpatient checkup. He noted that the 105 Covid-19 admissions were the “highest in four months.” The hospital typically has 60 Covid patients at any given time, he added. Del Rosario said with the uptick in Covid-19 cases, the PGH hopes to inoculate all of its 5,700 frontliners and support staff. More than 1,700 health workers have had a CoronaVac shot since the vaccine was rolled out at the hospital last week.

READ: 1.4M vaccines from China to arrive in March

MORE than 1 million coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines from China would be shipped this month, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said on Sunday. He added that the 1 million doses from Sinovac would arrive on March 21. The 400,000 doses to be donated by China will also be shipped this month. This week, the Philippine government also received 487,200 AstraZeneca vaccines from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Covax facility. Galvez said the WHO promised to deliver 4.5 million AstraZeneca vaccines. The country will receive 1.5 million doses every month until May. Galvez said the Sinovac vaccines had been deployed nationwide.

READ: ‘Private schools hit hard by pandemic’

The Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (Cocopea) said enrollment in private schools for School Year 2020-2021 declined by 50 percent (equivalent to 2 million students), while 400,000 private school students transferred to public schools, citing data from the Department of Education. The coronavirus pandemic prompted the suspension of classes in March last year as the government declared a nationwide lockdown. Distance learning replaced face-to-face classes in October. Cocopea Managing Director Joseph Noel Estrada said the shift to distance learning had resulted in a drop in enrollment and the shutdown of some private schools.

READ: Russia vaccine could get EUA in 2 weeks

The Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for Russia’s Gamaleya vaccine would likely be approved in one or two weeks, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said on Sunday. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is in the “advanced stage” of clearing the Sputnik V vaccine, Galvez said during the ceremony for the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine held at QualiMed Hospital in Sta. Rosa Laguna. He added that he himself was facilitating the dialogue between the FDA and Gamaleya for an EUA for Sputnik V. Gamaleya applied for an EUA last January. Another vaccine developer, Moderna, will supply the Philippines with 13 million doses. Moderna said deliveries would begin in the middle of this year, although the country has yet to approve the vaccine for use.

READ: JBC resets interview of chief justice bets

The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) has reset to Friday, March 12, the public interview for the three applicants for the position of chief justice in view of the retirement of Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta. Peralta, the nation’s 26th chief justice, is set to retire on March 27. The JBC originally scheduled the holding of public interviews on March 10. The resetting was made to give the three candidates more time to prepare for the interview. Three senior associate justices of the Supreme Court are in the running for the top position in the judiciary. They are Justices Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Alexander Gesmundo and Ramon Paul Hernando. Two other justices — Marvic Leonen and Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa — reportedly backed out from the race. Under the revised rules of the JBC, all applicants for judicial positions are required to submit themselves to a public interview.

READ: QC mayor stops opening of cinemas

Quezon City Mayor Josefina Belmonte ordered for indoor cinemas, video and game arcades, theme parks, and funfairs to remain closed as the government evaluates the recent surge of coronavirus cases in the city. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has allowed the opening of movie houses in areas under general community quarantine starting March 5.

BUSINESS: Inflation seen to pick up further

In business, Philippine headline inflation could further pick up in the coming months on the back of higher fuel and transport prices, a London-based research consultancy firm said. According to Capital Economics Senior Asia Economist Gareth Leather, headline inflation is likely to increase further in the months ahead due to a rebound in fuel and transport price inflation. He later said it should fall back sharply in the second half of the year. Headline inflation hit a two-year high of 4.7 percent in February due to high pork prices.

SPORTS: Saso named 2020 Athlete of the Year

Topping sports, Filipina golfer Yuka Saso is named the 2020 Athlete of the Year by the Philippine Sportswriters Association. Last year, the 2018 Asian Games gold medalist ruled in Japanese golf tournaments such as the NEC Karuizawa 72 Golf Tournament in Nagano in August, and the Nitori Ladies Golf Tournament in Hokkaido in the same month in the Japan Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). Saso, who entered 2021 with a world ranking 45th and bagged a total of P50 million in earnings during her rookie season, leads a compact list of awardees to be honored in the PSA Awards Night. This will be Saso’s second time to win the PSA Athlete of the Year award in the last three years, but first time to win it solo.


Rigoberto Tiglao and Fr. Ranhilio Aquino are today’s front page columnists. Tiglao talks about Vice President Ma. Leonor Robredo’s recent interview with journalist Malou Mangahas, while Fr. Aquino discusses the origins of religions from the Biblical prophet Abraham.

Today’s editorial honors the late 1987 constitution drafter Fr. Joaquin Bernas, who died on Saturday. Read the full version on the paper’s Opinion Section or listen to the Voice of The Times.

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With Dafort Villaseran, this is Aric John Sy Cua reporting. May you have a safe week ahead.