January 15, 2021
The Philippine government on Friday extended the travel restrictions imposed on foreign nationals coming from areas confirmed to have cases of the new COVID-19 variants. The travel ban that was supposed to end on Friday was extended until Jan. 31. The list includes 33 countries and territory. It was not expanded to include the United Arab Emirates.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday advised foreign travelers to postpone their plans to go to the Philippines this month amid the possibility of the government extending the travel ban imposed on countries with cases of the new COVID-19 variant.
The House of Representatives will be conducting its own probe into the government’s COVID-19 vaccination plan, with the chamber’s health committee scheduling a hearing on the matter next Monday. Among the resource persons invited to the probe are Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. Both officials are overseeing the government’s vaccination program against COVID-19.
Government officials will make the rounds of all available cold chain facilities next week ahead of the much-anticipated rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in the country.
The first 50,000 doses out of the total 25 million that the country has secured from China's Sinovac Biotech are set to arrive in February. In that same month, the Philippines might also receive an initial batch of vaccine jabs from US-based Pfizer and Russia's Gamaleya Institute, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III will recommend prohibiting the entry of foreign travelers from the United Arab Emirates after a Filipino who flew home from the Gulf country became the Philippines' first case of the new COVID-19 variant initially detected in the United Kingdom.
The Philippines has procured a total of 17 million doses of United Kingdom-based AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, through tripartite agreements involving the private sector and local government units.
The Food and Drug Administration granted the application of American pharmaceutical giant on Thursday, Director General Eric Domingo confirmed. An EUA issuance from the regulators is required for the vaccines to be legally rolled out in the country.
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said he is open to amending the restrictive economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution, as House lawmakers are set to begin deliberations on Charter change last 13 January. Among the sectors that should be further opened to foreign investors are the retail trade and construction industries, he said.
Citing preliminary figures from the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr), Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III on Tuesday said the amount disbursed by the government last year is already above the P3.798 trillion that the government spent in 2019.
The Department of Health (DOH) said it is now finalizing the list from both the national and local government, which will be inputted in their online database. Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they are now validating the list for HCWs, which is the first sector to be given the vaccine.
Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez said more than 30 provinces and cities have already allocated funds for buying jabs approved by the Food and Drug Administration, with the cities of Makati, Quezon and Taguig setting aside P1 billion each. His appeal is contained in House Resolution 1460, which followed a similar measure calling for permitting private companies to buy their own vaccine to fight the infectious new coronavirus.
THE Department of Finance (DOF) said the government has “lined up” P62.5 billion in loans from three multilateral development banks for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines.
In a statement Wednesday, the Department of Health (DOH) said the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) reported the detection of the new variant, known as B117, after samples from a Filipino who arrived from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Jan. 7 yielded positive genome sequencing results.
A coronavirus vaccine developed by China's Sinovac Biotech was just 50.4% effective at preventing symptomatic infections in a Brazilian trial, researchers said on Tuesday, barely enough for regulatory approval and well below the rate announced last week.
The proposed measure seeks to ease constitutional limits on foreign ownership of lands, educational institutions, public utilities, and mass media firms. Under Velasco’s proposal, Congress should convene as a constituent assembly and approve amendments to the Constitution by a three-fourths vote of all lawmakers, with the House and Senate voting separately.
Foreign tourist arrivals drop by 83.7% in 2020 — DOT
In its year-end report for 2020, the DOT said that largely due to border closure, the Philippines only received some 1.3 million international tourists, down from around 8.2 million arrivals in 2019. The total amount of receipts generated from inbound tourism, or the expenditure of foreign visitors, consequently plunged by 83.12% — from an estimated ₱482.16 billion in 2019 to ₱81.4 billion in 2020.
FITCH RATINGS affirmed the Philippines’ long-term foreign currency issuer default rating at “BBB” with a stable outlook. However, the global debt watcher acknowledged that the economic impact of the pandemic on the Philippine economy in 2020 was “more significant” than initially expected, “due to the domestic infection rate and government policy measures to curb the spread of the virus.”
Gov't eyes securing total of 145M vaccine doses in 2 weeks, earlier Pfizer rollout – Galvez
The Philippines is about to secure 90 million more doses of COVID-19 vaccines within the next two weeks, vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. said. This will be on top of the 30 million doses of Covovax from the Serum Institute of India and 25 million doses of Sinovac vaccines, as well as advance purchases of local government units and private firms through tripartite agreements.
China, 4 other countries included on PH travel restriction list
In a regular virtual Palace press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Office of the Executive Secretary released the additional countries that also include Pakistan, Jamaica, Luxembourg, and Oman.
WHO: Rise in COVID-19 cases in PH inevitable
The increase in COVID-19 cases in the country is "inevitable" given the gatherings of people during the holiday season and the recent Feast of the Black Nazarene, the World Health Organization said Tuesday
PH eyes rollout of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine via COVAX facility in Feb
Apart from China's Sinovac, the Philippines is also eyeing to roll out in February Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine via the COVAX facility, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said Tuesday.
New MMDA chair vows to make EDSA pedestrian-friendly
Newly appointed Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Benhur Abalos on Tuesday vowed to focus on making EDSA a pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare.