KUWTT: ECQ extension eyed Apr 01, 2021

Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Maundy Thursday, April 1, 2021.

READ: ECQ extension eyed

THE government will “seriously” consider extending the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the National Capital Region (NCR) and four nearby provinces if cases of Covid-19 will not go down, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said. He added the government is open to experts’ recommendations to extend ECQ by 14 days, as that is also the length of the inoculation period. On Wednesday, NTF medical adviser Ted Herbosa stressed the need to extend the implementation of a strict lockdown in the NCR and four provinces. He warned that opening up the economy after April 4 might lead to more infections and hospitals might no longer be able to cope.

READ: TUCP to employers: Vaccinate workers

ORGANIZED labor on Wednesday urged employers to inoculate their workers to help the government control the surging number of Covid-19 cases. The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) also appealed to the government to adopt Indonesia’s mass inoculation strategy, which prioritizes young working-age adults. The call came after President Duterte allowed the private sector to acquire Covid-19 vaccines to help the government speed up mass vaccination.

READ: Global Covid-19 deaths hit 2.8M

The Covid-19 pandemic has killed nearly 2.8 million people worldwide since it first emerged in Wuhan in late 2019, with several countries now battling new waves of infection. Italy said on Tuesday it would impose a five-day quarantine on travelers arriving from other European Union countries while Germany will beef up checks along land borders to ensure people arriving have negative Covid-19 tests. Germany said Tuesday it would only deploy AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine for general use for those aged over 60.

READ: Makati City seeks help as hospitals overflow

THE city government of Makati on Wednesday sought assistance from the national government as its hospitals and quarantine facilities reached full capacity. Makati Mayor Mar-Len Abigail Binay admitted that the city’s medical resources are stretched thin as active Covid-19 cases rose to 1,072.

READ: DoH, WHO firm on stand vs ivermectin use

THE Department of Health (DoH) stood firm on its decision not to endorse the antiparasitic drug ivermectin as treatment for Covid-19. Health Undersecretary Ma. Rosario Vergeire said it has not been proven to significantly reduce mortality or improve other clinical outcomes. World Health Organization Representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, in a virtual meeting with the House of Representatives’ Committee on Health, also reiterated the insufficient data on the efficacy and safety of ivermectin against Covid-19.

READ: 3 ‘mega’ quarantine facilities reopen

THREE so-called “mega” quarantine facilities that can accommodate over 200 patients will be reactivated as part of measures to help hospitals cope with the surge of Covid-19 cases in Metro Manila. As of March 31, the country had 130,245 active coronavirus disease cases, according to the Department of Health. Authorities said at least 98 percent of the active cases have mild or moderate symptoms or are asymptomatic. Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said among the mega quarantine facilities that were reactivated are those earlier set up at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum (97 beds), the Ninoy Aquino Stadium (127 beds) in Manila and the Quezon Institute (112 beds) in Quezon City. The Rizal Memorial and the Ninoy Aquino facilities have already been reopened while the Quezon Institute will open on April 8.

BUSINESS: BSP sees inflation at over 2-yr high

In business, the country’s headline inflation rate likely stayed at an over two-year high of 4.7 percent in March, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) estimated on Wednesday. In a statement, BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said March’s point inflation forecast was within the central bank’s 4.2- to 5.0-percent projected range for the month. The outlook matched the 4.7-percent consumer price growth in February, but quicker than the year-ago’s 2.5 percent. If correct, the estimated figure would be the fastest in over two years, or since December 2018’s 5.1 percent. The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) will release official March inflation data on April 6, 2021.

SPORTS: Pacquiao, Crawford in talks for June 5 fight

Topping sports, Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao and welterweight champion Terence Crawford are reportedly in talks of a mega-fight happening in June. According to a report by the Athletic.com via Mike Coppinger, the camp of Pacquiao is in discussion with Crawford for a fight on June 5 in Abu Dhabi. The source said that Top Rank has informed its network partner, ESPN, and pay-per-view distributor In Demand to hold June 5 for the potential fight it’s exploring between Pacquiao and Crawford. Fight fans are waiting for the return of Pacquiao who hasn’t fought since 2019. Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) has been back in his training since February to prepare for his comeback fight. His camp is yet to announce his opponent or any talks about negotiations with Crawford.

READ: Opinion and editorial

Yen Makabenta, Ramon Tulfo, and Arch. Felino Palafox, Jr. are today’s front page columnists. Makabenta believes the government’s pandemic response vitiated as they continue to juggle lockdown, quarantine and tough rules, Tulfo calls out a police lieutenant who sexually assaulted female detainees, while Arch. Palafox discusses about placemaking.

Today’s editorial says President Rodrigo Duterte is doing the right thing, when it came to vaccine procurement. Read a 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 Maundy Thursday.