Over 500,000 foreign tourists counted since the borders were reopened

If you are looking for encouraging news about our country and its struggle to rise up from the COVID-19 crisis, be aware that more than half a million foreign visitors have been counted since the Philippines reopened its borders months ago, according to a recent news report by BusinessWorld.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the BusinessWorld article. Some parts in boldface…

FOREIGN VISITORS have totaled 517,516 as of May 25, since the reopening of borders with minimal quarantine requirements in February, according to the Department of Tourism (DoT).

The DoT said in a statement that the US was the top source of arrivals between Feb. 10 and May 25 with 104,589, followed by South Korea with 28,474 arrivals, and Canada 24,337.

Australian nationals, British, and Japanese were next on the list with 23,286; 20,846; and 13,373 respectively,” the DoT said. 

“Other foreign visitors during the early months of the year include Vietnamese, Singaporeans, Malaysians, Italians, Irish and French,” it added.

On Feb. 10, the Philippines started accepting nationals that do not require visas to enter the country. Since April 1, borders have been opened to all nationals

“The DoT is looking forward to an uptick in tourist arrivals in the coming weeks following the further easing of entry requirements,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.

Starting May 30, the DoT said fully vaccinated and boostered inbound foreign visitors will no longer be required to have a pre-departure test for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The looser entry rules are authorized by Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) Resolution No. 168.

However, the DoT said arriving passengers are still encouraged to obtain travel insurance. All types of vaccination certificates, regardless of country of origin, will also be accepted.

“Based on the resolution, the visitor must be at least 18 years old and must have received the primary series of COVID-19 vaccines and at least one booster shot,” the DoT said.

For the newcomers reading this, more tourists from overseas means better opportunities for local businesses to make more money and recover whatever losses they had as a result of lockdowns and quarantine-related business restrictions. Tourism-related businesses like hotels, resorts and connected transportation and food-and-beverage services badly need the spending of foreign visitors.

In relation to this tourism industry development, be aware that there were foreign participants in the recent Subic Bay International Triathlon (SUBIT) which was a big sports even that attracted hundreds of participants on May 1 at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. Speaking of the said location, I personally saw lots of hotels, restaurants (note: read my feature articles about Gourmet Garage Subic and Xtremely Xpresso), stores and other leisure facilities that operated as if the country is back in the pre-pandemic days. The more foreign tourists coming in plus the more local tourists engage in holidays, special events and travel in the country, the better it will be for local businesses to recover (plus pay their fees, taxes and keeping their hard-working employees longer) and the nation as a whole. I believe that the Philippines will continue to rise socially and economically from the pandemic.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What is your reaction about this tourism-related development? Do you believe the Philippines will be able to attract 2 million foreign tourists by the end of 2022? Do you run a business that catered to foreign tourists?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram athttps://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/

COVID-19 Crisis: Alert Level 1 status in Metro Manila takes effect today with amended guidelines

Thanks to the Lord who listens to the prayers of the faithful and will never abandon them, Alert Level 1 is now in effect all over Metro Manila which will last until March 15, 2022. Along the way, the national authorities amended the guidelines for Alert Level, according to the Philippine News Agency (PNA). There will still be specific rules that need to be followed and things like face masks and vaccination cards are still required. As such, pay close attention to the details about the amended guidelines.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the PNA article. Some parts in boldface…

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) on Sunday approved the amendments to the guidelines on the nationwide implementation of the Alert Level System for Covid-19 response.

This, after the IATF also approved on Sunday placing the National Capital Region and 38 other areas under Alert Level 1 from March 1 to 15.

Under Alert Level 1, the IATF said there are no restrictions in terms of indoor and outdoor capacities. Everyone can undertake intrazonal and interzonal travel without regard to age and even comorbidities.

All establishments, persons, or activities are likewise allowed to operate, work, or be undertaken at total on-site or venue seating capacity, provided these are consistent with minimum public health standards.

Meanwhile, face-to-face classes for primary education shall be subject to prior approval of the Office of the President.

Below are some of the protocols to be observed under Alert Level 1:

*Well-fitted face masks shall be worn properly at all times, whether outdoors or in indoor private or public establishments, including in public transportation by land, air or sea, except when eating and drinking, participating in team and individual sports in venues where ventilation standards can be maintained, and practicing outdoor sports/exercise activities where physical distance can be maintained;

*All private offices and workplaces, including public and private construction sites, may operate at full 100 percent capacity, consistent with national issuances on vaccination requirements for on-site work. However, they may continue to provide flexible and alternative work arrangements as deemed appropriate based on function or individual risk.

*Agencies and instrumentalities of the government shall likewise adhere to 100 percent on-site workforce. Off-site work shall be under such work arrangements subject to relevant rules and regulations issued by the Civil Service Commission and the Office of the President.

*On the other hand, public transportation in areas under Alert Level 1 shall be at full seating capacity. For intrazonal and interzonal travels involving public land transportation between an area with a higher alert level classification and an area under Alert Level 1, the passenger capacity shall be that which has the lower passenger capacity rate between the point of origin and point of destination. For aviation, maritime and rail public transport operating in and out of Alert Levels 1 areas, the passenger capacity will be at 100 percent. The use of acrylic and/or plastic dividers in public transportation shall not be required. The use of the Safe, Swift and Smart Passage (S-PaSS) travel management system shall likewise not be required for interzonal travel to areas under Alert Level 1.

*On contact tracing, the use of health declaration forms/paper-based contact tracing shall not be required for all the agencies and establishments under Alert Level 1. On the other hand, the use of digital contact tracing such as the StaySafe.PH application is optional for all the agencies and establishments.

*On testing prioritization, testing protocols shall be implemented, consistent with national guidelines, for individuals who are unvaccinated or have higher exposure risk pursuant to IATF Resolution No. 148-B and No. 149, s. 2021. In addition, testing using RT-PCR shall be recommended and prioritized for: Priority Groups A2 (persons above 60 years old) and A3 (persons with comorbidities) and Priority Group A1 or healthcare workers. Testing shall be optional for other groups not stated above. It shall not be recommended for asymptomatic close contacts unless symptoms will develop, and should immediately isolate regardless of test results. Instead, symptom monitoring is recommended. Should testing still be used, testing should be done at least 5 days from the day of last exposure. Testing shall also not be recommended for screening asymptomatic individuals. Meanwhile, testing using antigen tests shall be recommended only for symptomatic individuals and in instances wherein RT-PCR is not available, consistent with previously issued guidelines.

*The Hospital Infection Prevention and Control Committees (HIPCC) may implement testing protocols in health facilities for health workers and patients based on their assessment of risk and benefit.

*On isolation and quarantine, updated quarantine protocols for incoming international travelers shall be consistent with IATF Resolution No. 160 A/B, and updated isolation and quarantine protocols for general public and healthcare workers and authorized sectors shall be consistent with DOH Dept Memo No. 2022-0013.

*Under Alert Level 1, establishments are no longer required to set-up isolation facilities within the workplace.

*On treatment, close contacts, asymptomatic confirmed cases and mild to moderate confirmed cases shall be managed at the primary care level, such as health centers, private clinics thru face to face or teleconsultation, while confirmed cases with severe and critical symptoms shall be managed in the appropriate health care facility.

*In the case of reintegration, isolation can be discontinued upon completion of the recommended isolation period, provided that they do not have fever for at least 24 hours without the use of any antipyretic medications, and shall have improvement of respiratory signs and symptoms.

*For the purpose of claiming sick leave, health benefits or other relevant processes wherein the proofs of Covid-19 management are necessary, a medical certification may suffice provided it should include the following minimum information: name of patient, severity of symptoms, diagnosis as probable or confirmed COVID-19, and date of end of quarantine and/or isolation period.

Meanwhile, individuals 18 years old and above will be required to present proof of full vaccination before participating in mass gatherings or entry into indoor establishments, such as but not limited to:

*In-person religious gatherings; gatherings for necrological services, wakes, inurnment and funerals for those who died of causes other than Covi-19 and for the cremains of the Covid-19 deceased;

*All indoor dine-in services of food preparation establishments such as kiosks, commissaries, restaurants and eateries. For outdoor or al fresco dining and take out channels, no proof of full vaccination is required;

*All indoor personal care establishments such as barbershops, hair spas, hair salons, and nail spas, and those offering aesthetic/cosmetic services or procedures, make-up services, salons, spas, reflexology and other similar procedures including home service options;

*Fitness studios, gyms and venues for exercise and sports;

*All indoor cinemas or movie houses operating at full capacity;

*Meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibition events and permitted venues for social events such as parties, wedding receptions, engagement parties, wedding anniversaries, debut and birthday parties, family reunions, and bridal or baby showers;

*Venues with live voice or wind-instrument performers and audiences such as in karaoke bars, clubs, concert halls and theaters;

*Indoor ancillary establishments in hotels and other accommodation establishments; and

*Venues for election-related events.

Proof of full vaccination shall be required before entry in the list of establishments identified under the principles of 3C’s strategy against Covid-19.

Children ages 17 and below shall not be required to present proof of vaccination status.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What do you think about this new development? If you are a Metro Manila resident, do you feel very relieved about Alert Level 1 in effect for the next two weeks?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

Muntinlupa City holds Biz Permit Renewal from January 3 to 20, 2022, tax payers may transact online via BEST

The annual Business Permits Renewal in Muntinlupa City officially launched today (January 3, 2022), with strict health measures in place to comply with IATF protocols. While, taxpayers may also opt to process their application online and via off-site channels.

Mayor Jaime Fresnedi welcomes business locators in the city in the 2022 Muntinlupa Business Permit Renewal Hub located at Muntinlupa Sports Center, Brgy. Tunasan.

The details.

Strict health standards and distancing protocols are implemented in the Renewal Hub which include sterilization and disinfection of submitted documents using UV box, body temperature check, installation of alcohol sprays, and monitoring by compliance officers.

A One-Stop Shop arrangement in the Business Permit Renewal Hub has been installed in the venue for the convenience of taxpayers.

Business taxpayers can pay using Debit Cards in the Renewal Hub. Mobile ATMs and a Closed Circuit Television System are also installed across the venue. Free shuttle service is provided for clients going to and from the venue with pick-up points located at Muntinlupa City Hall Quadrangle.

Further, business owners may renew their business permit online via the Business E-payment System (BESt) which can be accessed thru Muntinlupa City official website (www.muntinlupacity.gov.ph).

Muntinlupa BEST is an online platform which allows locators to accomplish business permit applications and transactions through any internet-enabled device.

Taxpayers can accomplish transactions including application for New Business Permit, Renewal of Business Permit, Application Status Inquiry, Billing and Payment, and Payment History.

Another option for business locators is an off-site channel via the Business Permit Application Self-Service (BPASS) kiosks located inside the city’s major malls.

Business permits may also be delivered by the City Government’s official courier service partner, Keridelivery Inc, to the doorstep of business owners.

Mayor Fresnedi extends his thanks to the business tax payers in doing their part for the recovery of the city and the local economy.

Top Ten “Early Bird” Taxpayers in the 2022 Muntinlupa Business Permit Renewal receive cerficates of recognition and grocery packages from the City Government. Mayor Jaime Fresnedi (center), City Administrator Engr. Allan Cachuela (left), and LEIPO Gary Llamas (right) greeted early taxpayers and extended their gratitude to the business owners for renewing their businesses in the city last January 3. The business renewal event will run until January 20 at Muntinlupa Sports Complex, Tunasan. (source – Muntinlupa PIO)

The local exec awarded certificates of recognition and grocery packs to this year’s Top 10 Early Bird Taxpayers: RJ Sari-sari Store (Mr. Elmer Jesalva), Mila and Noli Wood Scrap (Ms. Milagros Salvador), R. Andaya Transport Services (Mr. Richard Andaya), Erchie Appliance Parts (Mr. Erchie Tamon), MPLG Begona Trading (Ms. Ma. Pinky Begona), Edcon Dacanay Apartment (Ms. Consolacion Dacanay), FDA Dejan Construction Services (Ms. Josepine Dejan), People’s Choice Apartment (Mr. Ernesto Obra), Chaulamoir Enterprises (Ms. Wanina Laudemer), and Mini-mini Store (Ms. Cherrie Flores).

The 2022 Business Permit Renewal will run from January 3 – 20, 2022 and BPLO Muntinlupa will serve clients from Mondays to Fridays. The list of requirements is posted in the city’s website www.muntinlupacity.gov.ph.

For inquiries, you may call BPLO Muntinlupa at 8317-9964 or email them at bplo.muntinlupa@yahoo.com.

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The above information was sourced from an official press release. Some parts were changed for this website.

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  HavenorFantasy@twitter.com as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

COVID-19 Crisis: Alert Level 3 in Metro Manila takes effect today

In case you missed the news, the daily count of new COVID-19 infections around the Philippines has gone up sharply since the last few days of December 2021. On the evening of December 31, it was announced by the national government that Metro Manila will be placed under Alert Level status starting today – January 3, 2022 – until the 15th.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the Philippine News Agency’s article. Some parts in boldface…

The alert level status in Metro Manila will be raised anew from the current Level 2 to Alert Level 3 from Jan. 3 to 15, 2022, Malacañang announced on Friday night.

In a public announcement, acting presidential spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) decided to shift to a more stringent alert level status as the country saw a spike in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) infections.

“Nakita naman natin sa mga nakaraang araw ay nag-increase exponentially ang mga kaso dahil sa Holiday activities kung saan tumaas ang movement ng mga tao at bumaba ang compliance sa minimum public health standards. Isa rin sa dahilan ang detection ng local cases ng Omicron variant (We saw an exponential rise during the past days because of the Holiday activities where there were increased movement and compliance with minimum public health standards may have been disregarded. Local cases of the Omicron variant were also detected),” he said.

Nograles added that an increase in Covid-19 positive cases is expected in the succeeding days thus, the IATF’s decision

After 12 days of active cases below 10,000, the number increased to 10,418 on December 29 and was at 14,233 by year-end after 2,961 new cases.

The Department of Health also confirmed 10 new cases of the Omicron variant, with three already recovered.

Nograles cited a “high possibility” of local transmission of the Omicron variant.

Under Alert Level 3, establishments or activities shall be allowed to operate or be undertaken at a maximum of 30 percent indoor venue capacity for fully vaccinated individuals only and 50 percent outdoor venue capacity, provided that all workers of the establishments are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

Movements

Intrazonal and interzonal movement are still allowed, however, reasonable restrictions may be imposed by the LGUs, which should not be stricter as those prescribed under higher alert levels and subject to the oversight, monitoring, and evaluation of their respective Regional IATF.

Those below 18 years of age, and those belonging to the vulnerable population, shall be allowed access to obtain essential goods and services, or for work in permitted industries and offices in accordance with existing labor laws, rules, and regulations. Individual outdoor exercises shall also be allowed for all ages regardless of comorbidities or vaccination status. 2.

Prohibited activities

Meanwhile, the following establishments and activities that are considered high-risk for transmission under Alert Level 3 are not allowed:

  1. Face to face or in-person classes for basic education, except those earlier permitted by the IATF and Office of the President;
  2. Contact sports, except those conducted under bubble-type setup, as provided for under relevant guidelines adopted by the IATF, Games and Amusement Board, and Philippine Sports Commission, and approved by the LGU where such games shall be held;
  3. Funfairs/carnivals and kid amusement industries like playgrounds, playroom, and kiddie rides;
  4. Venues with live voice or wind-instrument performers and audiences such as in karaoke bars, clubs, concert halls, and theaters;
  5. Casinos, horse racing, cockfighting and operation of cockpits, lottery and betting shops, and other gaming establishments, except those that will be allowed by the IATF or Office of the President; and
  6. Gatherings in residences with individuals not belonging to the same household.

Allowed activities

He said allowed activities under Alert Level 3 at a maximum of 30% indoor venue capacity for fully vaccinated individuals only and 50% outdoor venue capacity are the following: 

  1. Venues for meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE);
  2. Permitted venues for social events such as parties, wedding receptions, engagement parties, wedding anniversaries, debut and birthday parties, family reunions, and bridal or baby showers; 
  1. Visitor or tourist attractions such as libraries, archives, museums, galleries, exhibits, parks, plazas, public gardens, scenic viewpoints or overlooks, and the like;
  2. Amusement parks or theme parks;
  3. Recreational venues such as internet cafes, billiard halls, amusement arcades, bowling alleys, skating rinks, archery halls, swimming pools, and similar venues;
  4. Cinemas and movie houses;
  5. Limited face-to-face or in-person classes for higher education and for technical-vocational education and training;
  6. In-person religious gatherings; gatherings for necrological services, wakes, inurnment, and funerals for those who died of causes other than COVID-19 and for the cremains of the COVID-19 deceased;
  7. Licensure or entrance/qualifying examinations administered by their respective government agency, and specialty examinations authorized by the IATF subject to the health and safety guidelines as approved by the IATF;
  8. Dine-in services in food preparation establishments such as kiosks, commissaries, restaurants, and eateries, subject to DTI sector-specific protocols;
  9. Personal care establishments such as barbershops, hair spas, hair salons, and nail spas, and those offering aesthetic/cosmetic services or procedures, make-up services, salons, spas, reflexology, and other similar procedures including home service options, subject to the sector-specific protocols of the DTI;
  10. Fitness studios, gyms, and venues for non-contact exercise and sports, subject to DTI sector-specific protocols. Provided that patrons/clients and workers/employees wear face masks at all 3 times and that no group activities are conducted; and
  11. Film, music, and television production, subject to the joint guidelines as may be issued by the DTI, DOLE, and the DOH.

These activities will be allowed provided that all on-site workers/employees of these establishments and organizers of activities are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and MPHS shall be strictly maintained. There is no objection from the LGU where these activities may take place.

The IATF, he said, instructed the Technical Working Group headed by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and National Vaccination Operations Center to craft guidelines in the implementation of stricter measures for the unvaccinated individuals.

Metro Manila was under Alert Level 2 for some time and a lot of people and their families have been enjoying the added freedom of movement due to the reduction of restrictions. This, of course, contributed to the crowding at stores and food-and-beverage joints, and the rise of parties or social gatherings during the Christmas season. Along the way, cases of Omicron in the Philippines started to grow. Omicron, which has been magnified by the secular, liberal media organizations and caused a lot of problems worldwide, is feared for being more contagious. Since Omicron is a problem in the country, I can only hope that the national authorities will consider acquiring a new and much bigger batch of the Russian vaccines Sputnik V and Sputnik Light as those vaccines were declared effective against the feared variant.

Other than raising the alert level and putting up more restrictions, the authorities should deal with the Omicron variant fast. I would not be surprised that the local stock market will lose points as long as the Omicron variant remains a problem in the Philippines. For those living in Metro Manila, I encourage you all to pay close attention to the Metro Manila Council (MMC) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and examine how they will act, react and behave this time around. Let’s observe if those officials won’t be too distracted with pre-election activities related to the May 2022 national and local elections so that they can do their jobs efficiently.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: If you are a Metro Manila resident, what is your reaction to this development? Do you think the daily number of new COVID-19 cases will fall to less than one thousand per day by January 15, 2022? Are you afraid of the Omicron variant? Do you think it is time for the government to import more Sputnik vaccines to push back against Omicron-related infections?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

COVID-19 Crisis: Omicron variant detected in the Philippines according to DOH

The Department of Health (DOH) announced yesterday the that much feared Omicron variant was detected here in the Philippines and it was found in two travelers who arrived not from South Africa (where Omicron was first detected) but from Nigeria and Japan, according to a GMA Network news report.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the statement published by GMA Network. Some parts in boldface…

The Philippines has detected the Omicron coronavirus variant from two international travelers, the Department of Health (DOH) announced on Wednesday.

According to the DOH, one is a returning overseas Filipino who arrived from Japan on December 1 via Philippine Airlines flight number PR 0427.

The other case is a Nigerian national who arrived from Nigeria on November 30 via Oman Air with flight number WY 843.

In a message to reporters, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said one is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 while the other is not.

The DOH said the two cases were detected during the latest run that sequenced 48 samples composed of 21 returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs), one foreign national, and 26 local cases from areas with case clusters.

The sample of the ROF was collected on December 5. He then tested positive COVID-19 on December 7 and was admitted to a facility on the same day.

“He is currently asymptomatic but had symptoms of colds and cough upon arrival,” the DOH said.

Meanwhile, the sample from the Nigerian national was collected on December 6 while his positive result was released on December 7. The asymptomatic case was quarantined on the same day.

“The DOH is determining possible close contacts among co-passengers during the flights of these two cases,” the DOH said in a statement.

The DOH said it is also verifying the test results and health status of all passengers of the flights to determine if there are other confirmed cases or if there are any who developed symptoms after arrival.

Travelers from the flights were advised to reach out to the DOH through DOH COVID-19 Hotlines at (02) 8942 6843 or 1555, or their respective local government units to report their status.

“With the detection of the imported cases of Omicron variant, the Department also urges everyone to adhere to the minimum public standards,” it said.

“Moreover, this holiday season, the public should avoid holding mass gatherings to curb the transmission of COVID-19. The DOH also urges those unvaccinated to get vaccinated,” the DOH added.

Omicron is very much feared overseas not just because it is more infectious, but also because of the secular liberal news media whose reports added to the fear and chaos to the global audience. It spread panic and caused governments abroad to close down their borders in reaction. Very recently, the OCTA Research group expressed its concern about the possible surge of new COVID-19 cases in the event Omicron hits the Philippines. The reality is that the feared new variant is here.

Now that the Omicron variant is here in the Philippines, I encourage you readers – especially those who are based here in the Philippines – to pay close attention as to how the government officials will react to the detection of Omicron in the country. Watch closely the moves of the Metro Manila mayors, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) in reaction to Omicron.

More importantly, I encourage all of you reading this not to panic but come to the Lord and pray to Him for great protection with chapter 91 of the Book of Psalm in the Holy Bible. Don’t hesitate, do it now for your protection, your family’s protection and the protection of the nation. Pray to the Lord in your room with the door shut, pray in tongues to Him, keep practicing Christian habits (click here and here), and keep on seeking Him first and foremost. Always have unwavering faith in our Lord and Savior, Jesus!

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

COVID-19 Crisis: Panic and the closing of borders related to the Omicron variant

As a growing number of nations closed their borders to foreign travelers due to the fear over the Omicron variant (coronavirus variant B.1.1.529) magnified by secular and liberal news media organizations, CBN News published a related news report highlighting the statement of the head of the South African Medical Association that Western nations are panicking unnecessarily over the said new variant.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from CBN News’ report. Some parts in boldface…

The World Health Organization calls Omicron “a variant of concern,” but admits more needs to be learned about it. 

Initial reports describe it as having very mild symptoms.

But the virus may also be highly transmissible. Two new cases have just been confirmed in Canada, the first known to have reached North America. 

Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, said preliminary evidence shows that it is more transmissible. “We don’t know for sure. We really have no data on severity, whether it’s more severe, milder, or more significant,” Jha said.

The United States has decided to ban travelers from South Africa and seven other countries in the region.

Israel has closed its borders to noncitizens for two weeks and has authorized cell phone surveillance of anyone confirmed to be carrying the variant. 

Japan also suspended entry to foreign visitors.

But the head of the South African Medical Association, Dr. Angelique Coetzee, said Western nations are panicking unnecessarily

There’s body aches and pain with a bit of a headache, not really sore throat, more of a scratchy type of description and no cough and no loss of smell or taste. And that’s what I call ‘mild symptoms.‘”

South Africa’s Health Minister, Joe Phaala, slammed what he called the ‘draconian’ travel bans.

“The reaction of some of the countries in terms of imposing travel bans and such measures are completely against the norms and standards as guided by the World Health Organization.” 

Here in the Philippines, the Omicron variant news reports sparked calls for ramping up COVID-19 vaccination just as the 3-day nationwide vaccination drive resulted 2.5 million shots administered on the first day. Omicron also brought local stocks down by a little over 1% on November 29 and the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) recommended to President Rodrigo Duterte the required wearing of face shields (which are unpopular and are really inconvenient to use as they distort vision and make verbal communication more problematic). These local developments show how much of a negative impact Omicron has made through the news and also shows how concerned or panicky people could get.

Anyone who follows Jesus as Lord and Savior should know that no matter what the situation and no matter how much fear and negativity the global new media spreads, they should NOT panic at all and should maintain unwavering faith in Him for protection and lifting.

To all the faithful as well as all others who have not yet accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior reading this…the Lord will not abandon us nor forsake us. Trust in the Lord wholeheartedly and eternally. Submit to the Lord and be led by the Holy Spirit. Learn from the following scriptures below…

Do not yield to fear, for I am always near.
    Never turn your gaze from me, for I am your faithful God.
    I will infuse you with my strength
    and help you in every situation.
    I will hold you firmly with my victorious right hand.’
“All who rage against you will be ashamed and disgraced.
    All who contend with you will perish and disappear.
 You will look for your enemies in vain;
    those who war against you will vanish without a trace!

Isaiah 41:10-12 (TPT)

Fear and intimidation is a trap that holds you back.
    But when you place your confidence in the Lord,
    you will be seated in the high place.

Proverbs 29:25 (TPT)

Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”

Then Moses called Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and of good courage, for you must go with this people to the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall cause them to inherit it. And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”

So Moses wrote this law and delivered it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and to all the elders of Israel.

Deuteronomy 31:6-9 (NKJV)

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

COVID-19 Crisis: Philippines monitoring coronavirus variant B.1.1.529 (Omicron variant)

News about the new and more infectious coronavirus variant B.1.1.529 – also referred to as the Omicron variant – that reportedly originated in South Africa dominated the news cycles this past weekend and already the authorities here in the Philippines are monitoring it, according to a recent Philippine News Agency (PNA) report.

Before proceeding with the PNA’s news report, let’s take a close look as to what exactly is coronavirus variant B.1.1.529 or Omicron variant according to the World Health Organization (WHO) which published an article (published November 26, 2021) about it. The excerpt is pasted below and some parts in boldface…

The B.1.1.529 variant was first reported to WHO from South Africa on 24 November 2021. The epidemiological situation in South Africa has been characterized by three distinct peaks in reported cases, the latest of which was predominantly the Delta variant. In recent weeks, infections have increased steeply, coinciding with the detection of B.1.1.529 variant. The first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on 9 November 2021.

This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs. The number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in South Africa. Current SARS-CoV-2 PCR diagnostics continue to detect this variant. Several labs have indicated that for one widely used PCR test, one of the three target genes is not detected (called S gene dropout or S gene target failure) and this test can therefore be used as marker for this variant, pending sequencing confirmation. Using this approach, this variant has been detected at faster rates than previous surges in infection, suggesting that this variant may have a growth advantage.

There are a number of studies underway and the TAG-VE will continue to evaluate this variant. WHO will communicate new findings with Member States and to the public as needed.

Based on the evidence presented indicative of a detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology, the TAG-VE has advised WHO that this variant should be designated as a VOC, and the WHO has designated B.1.1.529 as a VOC, named Omicron.

As such, countries are asked to do the following:

  • enhance surveillance and sequencing efforts to better understand circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants.
  • submit complete genome sequences and associated metadata to a publicly available database, such as GISAID.
  • report initial cases/clusters associated with VOC infection to WHO through the IHR mechanism.
  • where capacity exists and in coordination with the international community, perform field investigations and laboratory assessments to improve understanding of the potential impacts of the VOC on COVID-19 epidemiology, severity, effectiveness of public health and social measures, diagnostic methods, immune responses, antibody neutralization, or other relevant characteristics.

Individuals are reminded to take measures to reduce their risk of COVID-19, including proven public health and social measures such as wearing well-fitting masks, hand hygiene, physical distancing, improving ventilation of indoor spaces, avoiding crowded spaces, and getting vaccinated.

As mentioned earlier, the Philippines is paying close attention to the Omicron variant. To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the PNA article. Some parts in boldface…

The Philippine government is monitoring the new coronavirus variant B.1.1.529 that already has cases in South Africa, acting Presidential spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Friday.

During the Palace briefing, Nograles said members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and the Department of Health (DOH) are widely aware of the variant described by experts as “heavily mutated”.

“We are monitoring — intently monitoring — itong situation na ito. Patuloy pa rin po ang ginagwa nating (We are monitoring — intently monitoring — this situation. We continue to conduct our) genomic surveillance on the ground,” Nograles said in an interview.

He added the government is constantly exchanging information with the World Health Organization about the possible threat of the newly detected variant.

We are waiting their advisories kung ito bang variant na ito (if this variant) is considered a variant of interest or a variant of concern,” Nograles said.

Dana Krizia Sandoval, spokesperson of the Bureau of Immigration, said in another interview that various systems are in place once the IATF sees the need to adjust the travel restrictions caused by emerging Covid-19 variants.

“Kapag may directive po ang IATF na kailangan pong baguhin, immediately po kaya po nating i-implement and we have the sufficient manpower naman po para tugunan po itong mga pangangailangan na ito (Once the IATF gives its directive to change it, we will immediately implement it and we have sufficient manpower to augment these needs),” she added.

Sandoval said they are strictly enforcing health protocols and social distancing measures in all entry and exit points to make sure that travelers are safe when passing through the immigration area.

The above report ended stating that there have been confirmed cases of Omicron variant in South Africa, Botswana, and Hong Kong.

While the Omicron news published are scary and unsettling to learn about, it should be noted that there are still ways for the Philippines to prevent the new variant from entering the country even though the national authorities are constantly working as people of different nationalities enter, exit or pass through our nation via air travel.

As the Omicron variant was found to be much more infectious than the previous variants of coronavirus, now is a much more crucial time for every unvaccinated person here in the Philippines to go out and get vaccinated. That being said, the patients who are due for a 2nd dose of their vaccine should contact the local authorities to ask when will they be scheduled for the 2nd shot. As for the fully vaccinated, watch out for updates about the release of booster shots for more patients apart from the already receiving senior citizens, the health workers and immunocompromised. For anyone vaccinated already enjoying the added freedom of movement and the ongoing revival of businesses under Metro Manila’s Alert Level 2 status (extended to November 30, 2021), always maintain caution by following health protocols.

As the many secular and liberal media outlets around the world enjoy publishing scary news about Omicron, we who believe in Lord Jesus should not panic nor allow ourselves to be crushed by fear. For His protection, I urge you all to pray to Him with Psalm 91 in the Holy Bible. Maintain unwavering faith in the Lord no matter what.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

COVID-19 Crisis: Face shields no longer mandatory in areas under Alert Levels 1 to 3

It took a long time to happen but it finally happened at last and will surely provide people relief from the so-called protective but inconvenient face shields. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte approved the recommended lifting of the mandatory use of face shields specifically in areas under Alert Level 1, 2 and 3, according to a Philippine News Agency (PNA) report. The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) recommended the lifting in response to the much-improved situations (note: low daily counts of new COVID-19 infections and the continued rise of people getting vaccinated) of the nation under the pandemic. Be reminded that prior to this new development, there was a collective push to make face shields non-mandatory in Metro Manila.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the Philippine News Agency report. Some parts in boldface…

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Monday approved the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to lift the mandatory use of face shields in areas under Alert Level 1 to 3.

“Ang decision ko is okay, tanggalin nyo na yung [face] shields. Pwede na ninyong (My decision is okay, you can remove face shields. You can), you dispense with the shields but not the (face) mask,” Duterte said in his prerecorded “Talk to the People”.

Duterte said face mask would remain part of the day-to-day safety measure “kasi matagal pa itong virus na nasa hangin lang (because the virus which is airborne will be here for a long time).”

He urged the public to make sure that the Covid-19 positivity rate in the country will continue to go down by following the health and safety protocols.

“You have to obey what the government will tell you to do because it’s for the good of the country and for you. Sumunod lang kayo (Just obey),” he said.

On Monday, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea issued a memorandum detailing the voluntary use of face shields in places with a relatively low Covid-19 alert level.

According to the memorandum, the use of face shields in community settings shall remain mandatory in areas under Alert Level 5 and granular lockdowns.

For places under Alert Level 4, local government units and private establishments are given the discretion to maintain or remove the wearing of face shields policy.

People residing in places under alert levels 3, 2, and 1 can voluntarily use the face shields as their added protection.

“The above protocols are without prejudice to the continuing mandatory use of face shields in medical and quarantine facility settings, and the required use thereof by healthcare workers in healthcare settings,” the order read.

The IATF-EID on Dec. 14, 2020 issued Resolution 88, requiring all persons to wear full-coverage face shields on top of face masks in all public places to control the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Based on the above details, for as long as an area is under Alert Level 3 and lower, face shields are no longer mandatory. Just optional. While a lot of face shields believers out there expressed that the said items are highly protective and prevent COVID-19 from entering people’s eyes, face shields are always inconvenient as they obscure people’s visions and make verbal communication even harder. Try talking to someone while you are wearing both a face mask (which itself muffles your speaking) and a face shield.

As long as COVID-19 infections are low and as long as people practice caution, walking around and doing your objectives without face shields can be done in areas under Alert Level 1-3. With the recent change, I encourage you to pay close attention to your own locality and also observe how the Metro Manila mayors and the MMDA will act and think now that face shields are no longer required in areas under Alert Level 1-3.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: Are you relieved that face shields are no longer mandatory in areas under Alert Level 1-3? How much money did you spend on face shields since the start of the pandemic? How many face shields do you have right now?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

COVID-19 Crisis: Muntinlupa City Council enacts ordinance scrapping the mandatory use of face shields within city limits

The collective push on making face shields non-mandatory in Metro Manila gained strength lately as City Council of Muntinlupa enacted an ordinance scrapping the mandatory use of the said things within the city’s jurisdiction, according to a Manila Bulletin news report.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the Manila Bulletin report. Some parts in boldface…

The Muntinlupa City Council has enacted an ordinance scrapping the mandatory use of face shields in the city.

Majority Floor Leader Raul Corro told Manila Bulletin that the City Council enacted the ordinance on Nov. 8. The ordinance, he said, lifted the mandatory use of face shields except in hospitals and clinics.

The approval of the ordinance came ahead of the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the use of face shields.

Interior Sec. Eduardo Año defended the issuance of executive orders (EOs) by Manila and Davao scrapping the use of face shields, saying mayors and local government units have the power to issue executive orders and ordinances under Republic Act 7160, the Local Government Code of 1991.

He cited Section 16 of the code, which states that “every local government unit shall exercise the powers expressly granted, those necessarily implied there from, as well as powers necessary, appropriate, or incidental for its efficient and effective governance, and those which are essential to the promotion of the general welfare.

Año was reacting to the comment by presidential spokesman Harry Roque who said the EOs are “null and void” for violating an executive order issued by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Personally, I give the Muntinlupa City Council’s enactment my approval. Face shields should no longer be required not simply because they are inconvenient to use but because they are less relevant given the much-improved situations in Metro Manila related to the pandemic. The daily national count of new COVID-19 infections are much lower now, more people in Metro Manila have practiced caution and followed local health protocols, more people have gotten vaccinated and fully vaccinated (29.8 million as of November 9, 2021), etc.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: If you are a Muntinlupa City resident, what can you say about this latest local development? Do you think the City Councilors made the right move? Have you personally encountered someone who strongly believes that using face shields should remain a requirement all over the country?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

COVID-19 Crisis: A collective push to make face shields non-mandatory in Metro Manila

It has been days since Alert Level 2 was declared all over Metro Manila and the result was the increase presence of people – including minors – at the parks, the shopping malls and food-and-beverage joints. This past Sunday, I noticed more vehicles traveling north on the Metro Manila Skyway which I found surprising as Sunday traffic is normally light. Vaccination for COVID-19 in the metropolis continues to grow and the national average of daily new infections has been below 5,000 per day for some time now. Things are looking optimistic.

As for the face shields that local have been compelled to use for some time now, there is a collective push to make them non-mandatory in Metro Manila. For one thing, face shields make verbal communication harder (as people are already wearing face masks). Another thing is that face shields can be quite inconvenient, even uncomfortable to use whether outdoors or indoors. Surely the local believers of face shields keep on preaching that the said things provide greater protection from COVID-19 but does the rest of the world agree with them? Locally, the OCTA Research group expressed that face shields should not be required inside cinemas.

More recently, it seems that the mayors of Metro Manila and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) want to scrap the use of face shields (note: there will still be specific places that require face shields) and make their recommendation to the national authorities, the Manila Bulletin reported.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the Manila Bulletin report. Some parts in boldface…

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will recommend to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) the scrapping of mandatory use of face shields in the National Capital Region following mutual agreement among Metro mayors.

MMDA Chairman Benhur Abalos said Monday, Nov. 8, that the use of face shields will no longer be required except for “critical places.”

Critical areas, according to Abalos, are the hospitals, barangay health centers and public transportation.

“Ang napag-usapan namin sa faceshield number 1, ito yung isusugest ko sa IATF, na tanggalin na ho ang face shield hindi na gawing mandatory except for critical places (What we discussed about the faceshield was that the lifting of its mandatory use except for critical places. I would suggest that to the IATF),” Abalos said in a TeleRadyo interview when asked about what was Metro mayors’ say on removing the use of face shields.

Once approved by the IATF, the use of face shields will no longer be necessary in malls, Abalos added.

Last week, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Usec. Jonathan Malaya disclosed that DILG Sec. Año will be proposing to the IATF the lifting of the same policy as Metro Manila already deescalated to Alert Level 2 status.

For his part, Senator Manny Pacquiao expressed support on lifting the mandatory use of face shields, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported. Pacquiao, who is running for Philippine President, also expressed his awareness about economic recovery and lessening the burden people have been living with.  

Going back to the Metro Manila Council and the MMDA, it has been reported by GMA Network that a recommendation or an appeal will be submitted to the IATF. Take note that the IATF is the top authority on COVID-19 matters and policies here in the Philippines.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What do you think about this latest development? Do you think that the Metro Manila mayors and the MMDA, who are partly responsible for the August ECQ and even implemented a ban on outdoor exercise, are sincere about face shields right now? Are you sick and tired of being required to use face shields? What is the one thing you despised the most about face shields?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673