KUWTT: Group sees 8,000 Covid cases a day Mar 15, 2021

Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Monday, March 15, 2021.

READ: Group sees 8,000 Covid cases a day

The country could have 8,000 coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases a day by the end of March if the present surge of infections continues, an expert warned on Sunday. OCTA Research Fellow Guido David made the projection on Sunday, saying the reproduction rate (R0) of 1.9 was higher than OCTA’s forecast of 1.6. The R0 indicates how infectious a disease is. A R0 of 1 means that one Covid-infected person can pass on the virus to one other person. An R0 of 1.9 means that each carrier can infect more than one person. Metro Manila alone is expected to have 5,000 to 6,000 cases a day by the end of March. The region, home to a tenth of the country’s population, is also projected to have 14,000 daily cases by mid-April. To help curb the rise, the mayors of Metro Manila have agreed on a two-week “unified curfew” beginning today, March 15. Exactly a year ago, an enhanced community quarantine was enforced in the metropolis, the first and most stringent lockdown ever declared.

READ: PH’s own vaccine plant in the works

A Filipino-owned company is putting up a multibillion-peso facility that will manufacture the “next generation” coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccine. Giovanni Alingog, chief executive officer of Glovax Biotech Corp., aims to build a production plant either in Subic in Zambales or Clark in Pampanga. Glovax was the first company to distribute the vaccine for the AH1N1 or the swine flu that swept the country in 2010. Alingog said his goal was to develop the country’s “next-generation Covid vaccine” that would be effective against new strains of the virus. He shared his plan with The Manila Times in a telephone interview. The vaccine Glovax will produce is the EuCorVac-19, developed by the United States-based Pop Biotechnologies and produced by its Korean partners Eubiologics and LG Chem.

READ: QCGH hits full capacity

THE Quezon City General Hospital (QCGH) has reached its coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) capacity, its director Dr. Josephine Sabando said on Sunday. Since March 9, the occupancy rate of the hospital’s Covid ward beds had exceeded 100 percent. In her report to Mayor Josefina Belmonte, Sabando said QCGH recorded a 106-percent Covid bed occupancy on March 9, 137.5 percent on March 10, 125 percent on March 11 and 112 percent on March 12. Even with this development, the hospital would continue to admit walk-in non-Covid patients, she added.

READ: Govt to closely monitor effects of AstraZeneca

Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Jose Maria Concepcion 3rd said the government would closely monitor reports that the AstraZeneca vaccine could cause thromboembolic events or the forming of blood clots. The Department of Health (DoH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week said the Philippines would push through with the use of AstraZeneca vaccines despite reports that some European Union nations had stopped using the vaccine.

READ: Get Covid-19 shots, public urged

SEN. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go has urged Filipinos to get inoculated against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) as he assured them that the vaccines went through rigorous safety and efficacy evaluation process. The chairman of the Senate Committee on Health said placing Metro Manila in modified general community quarantine was “highly unlikely” at this time because of the rising number of new cases in the region.

READ: PDEA chief tests positive for Covid-19

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director-General Wilkins Villanueva has contracted the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). In a Facebook post on Sunday, Villanueva included his Covid-19 test result from the Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center, which showed he was positive for the virus. He said he had a swab test on Saturday while preparing for Monday’s Senate inquiry on the shootout between PDEA agents and Quezon City policemen last month near a mall in Quezon City.

READ: Filipinos find blended learning more difficult

Many Filipinos see blended learning as more difficult than the traditional face-to-face learning system, results of a recent survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) revealed. According to the survey conducted from November 21 to 25 among 1,500 adults nationwide, 89 percent of the respondents said the blended learning system, which is currently being implemented in public and private schools, is more difficult than the traditional classroom setting. Under the blended learning system, students are taught using various means including the use of online, television, radio and print materials.

READ: More policemen to enforce curfew

The Philippine National Police (PNP) will deploy more uniformed policemen to enforce curfew hours in Metro Manila beginning today, Monday, amid the rising number of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases in the country. According to PNP officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, all police forces will strictly implement the uniform curfew hours from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. and will ensure that people in Metro Manila observe the minimum health safety standard protocol.

BUSINESS: Rising Covid cases to pull down 2021 GDP

Over to business, London-based consultancy firm Capital Economics downgraded the country’s economic growth forecast to 9.5 percent from the previous 11.5 percent due to the rising number of Covid-19 cases and deteriorating economic data.

SPORTS: Terrafirma selects Munzon as top pick overall

Topping sports, the Terrafirma Dyip picked Filipino-American winger Joshua Munzon first overall in the virtual 46th Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Rookie Draft Sunday. Munzon started turning heads when he suited up for the Saigon Heat and the Westports Malaysia Dragons in the Asean Basketball League. The California State University, Los Angeles standout then stamped his class in the 2019 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup, dropping 35.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.2 assists for AMA Online Education. Munzon, who stands at 6-foot-4, then strutted his wares in the Chooks-to-Go 3×3 tourneys for the past couple of years and represented the Philippines in multiple international meets.

READ: Opinion and editorial

Rigoberto Tiglao and Fr. Ranhilio Aquino are today’s front page columnists. Tiglao belies a recent column on the Philippine Daily Inquirer on extrajudicial killings, while Fr. Aquino talks about a return of reason.

Today’s editorial believes the government must avoid making a knee-jerk response to sudden rise in Covid-19 cases. 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.