business

DTI, CIDG, NBI strengthen campaign against hoarders and profiteers

April 1, 2020

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), along with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG), seized a total of over P15 million worth of alcohol, hand sanitizers, face masks, and thermal scanners in separate operations across the country. “We continue to warn establishments against raising their prices and taking advantage of the COVID-19 situation,” said DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez. Citing the DTI-CIDG-NBI summary report, the Trade Secretary announced that a total of 62 operations have been conducted nationwide from 18-28 March 2020. NBI conducted 26 operations and arrested 64 individuals while CIDG conducted 36 operations wherein 59 individuals found hoarding and selling overpriced medical supplies have been arrested by authorities. DTI, together with the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Health (DOH), released on 18 March 2020 Joint Memorandum Circular No. 2020-01 to ensure the proper implementation of the price freeze on basic necessities and prime commodities, which shall last for sixty (60) days from the declaration of the State of Calamity on 16 March 2020, unless sooner lifted by President Rodrigo Duterte. “Through the JMC of DTI, DA, and DOH, we reiterate the continuous and strict implementation of the price freeze to prevent hoarding and profiteering for the entire period of the state of calamity,” said Sec. Lopez. Under the JMC, Local Price Coordination Councils (LPCCs) have also been reactivated to closely monitor the prices of agriculture and fishery products, processed goods, and medicines sold in urban centers nationwide. The implementing agencies, in coordination with the Department of Interior and Local Government, shall ensure that the LPCCs are fully mobilized and operational. “Our main goal here is to protect our consumers against undue surge in prices, particularly now that the nation is under a state of emergency,” said Sec. Lopez. “When violators raise the price of basic necessities by even just a few pesos, hundreds, even thousands of Filipinos are heavily affected. That is why we ask for the cooperation of all retailers to strictly abide by the directives of the national government,” he added. The DTI Consumer Protection Group is closely monitoring the price freeze on basic commodities. Any person or entity found violating the Price Act will be fined between P5,000 and P2 million and face imprisonment between five and 15 years. As the government further strengthens its quarantine efforts, consumers are enjoined to report business establishments that sell beyond the price freeze by calling hotline 1384 or 1-DTI.

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BDO urges clients to bank from home amidst COVID-19

April 1, 2020

While banks remain open to service the banking needs of clients amidst the enhanced community quarantine prevailing in Luzon, BDO Unibank encourages the heightened use of online banking service to protect the public from the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.  “We urge our online banking users to share and teach their family and friends how to sign up and use BDO Online Banking so they can bank safely from home,” the bank said in a statement.  BDO has provided steps to guide its customers on how to sign-up for online banking. These are found on its official website bdo.com.ph (bit.ly/WebsiteSignUpBDOOnline) official Facebook Page (bit.ly/FacebookSignUpBDOOnline) and BDO Youtube channel (bit.ly/YoutubeSignUpBDOOnline).  With BDO Online Banking, customers can perform transactions such as send money, pay bills, reload and more. To find out more about essential banking services without stepping foot outside your house, check bit.ly/BDOOnlineBankingFeatures.  Apart from online banking, BDO’s network of ATMs and Cash Accept Machines is always available for cash withdrawal, bills payment and deposit.

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Xavier Ateneo starts university-wide disinfection campaign amid COVID-19 pandemic

March 31, 2020

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – In light of the efforts to combat and repel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Cagayan de Oro City, Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan initiated its disinfection campaign to different areas of the university from March 15 to March 20, 2020. The university-wide disinfection campaign was administered by PestScience Corporation, the general pest control provider of Xavier Ateneo. Disinfection was done through blast misting using the recommended solution of 1 part chlorine to 9 parts water. Areas disinfected include the ALGCIT dorms, University Library, Finance Office, Human Resources Office, Treasurer's Office, Junior High School, and McKeough Marine Center – Jasaan, among other offices and spaces. COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus which originated from the city of Wuhan, China. It is more infectious than its predecessors, namely Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV). Reported COVID-19 cases indicate people experiencing symptoms ranging from mild cough, fever, and body malaise to severe pneumonia and death.∎

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Alliance Global Group and Megaworld donate 1,000 liters of disinfectant alcohol to Cagayan de Oro City LGU

March 31, 2020

Alliance Global Group and Megaworld donated 1,000 liters of disinfectant alcohol to Cagayan de Oro City local government unit to support the city’s efforts in the fight against COVID-19. The boxes of disinfectant alcohol were personally received by the CDO Mayor Óscar Moreno’s daughter, Imee Moreno-Lapuz.

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FDA Approves five brand of Rapid Antibody Test Kits for COVID-19

March 31, 2020

In what could be a critical turning point in the country’s battle against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved today, March 30, 2020, the use of five (5) brands of Rapid Test Kits for COVID-19.  “We approve kits that are registered and used in countries with advanced technology and wide experience with COVID 19. We want the people to have access to testing but of course, proper evaluation and safeguards will still be in place,” FDA Director General Eric Domingo said in press statement posted in the FDA website. According to the FDA Advisory No. 2020-483, approved where the following (with countries of origin): NANJING VAZYME 2019-nCoV IgG/IgM DETECTION KIT (Singapore); NOVEL CORONAVIRUS (2019-NCOV) IgM/IgG ANTIBODY DETECTION KIT (COLLOIDAL GOLD METHOD) (China); DIAGNOSTIC KIT FOR IgM/IgG ANTIBODY TO CORONAVIRUS (SARS-CoV-2) (COLLOIDAL GOLD (China); 2019-nCoV ANTIBODY TEST (COLLOIDAL GOLD) (China); and SARS-CoV-2 ANTIBODY TEST (LATERAL FLOW METHOD (China). FDA also approved the SARS Cov2 kit by Gene Xpert  from Abbott Laboratories which can detect the virus within 5 minutes. This test kit is PCR based. To date, FDA has approved 17 PCR based test kits for commercial use. As a safety precaution, the FDA shall require the product inserts or label of the Rapid Test Kits to state the following: “This product is strictly for medical professional use only and not intended for personal use. The administration of the test and interpretation of results should be done by a trained health professional. Confirmatory testing is required.” “The rapid test kits will yield a faster result compared to PCR based kits, but it is important that a trained health professional will evaluate and interpret the results,” Domingo stressed. Earlier last week, affiliate chambers of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) in Mindanao urged President Rodrigo Duterte to ramp up of mass screening of possible COVID-19 cases in the country through the adoption of the Rapid Serologic Test (RST) as a surveillance tool and for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to grant Emergency Use Authority to approve the applications for registration of verifiable suppliers of RST Kits that already underwent the registration process with their respective FDAs in their country of origin.  “We urgently need to check the health of our communities and this is only possible using mass testing in the field. Having statistics of sick patients in the hospital is just too late,” said Ma. Teresa R. Alegrio, PCCI area vice president for Mindanao. “We need to know actual cases in the field even before they become symptomatic or no longer symptomatic (unknowingly healed) to make targeted decisions before they even get to hospitals,” she added. PCCI is advocating the immediate rollout of the mass screening program using RST starting with all PUIs awaiting access to PCR testing, all PUMs, vulnerable persons within the vicinity of a cluster of Covid-19 outbreak, and among front liners in the hospital and in the field. Persons who test positive from RST mass screening should also be required to undergo priority confirmatory testing by PCR. However, the FDA stresses the need for caution in the deployment of rapid test kits which should only be used by certified medical professionals, and called on local government chief executives, heads of agencies, hospitals and private companies to be cautious in using the approved test kits. Further, the agency asked doctors to help in testing and guide patients in the interpretation of the results. “We have to be very cautious in using these rapid test kits because they measure antibodies and not the viral load itself. The body takes time to develop antibodies and this might give a negative result for patients who have been infected but antibodies have not yet developed antibodies. A positive result due to cross reaction with other bacteria or viruses is also possible, which is why a confirmatory PCR based test is still required,” Domingo noted. Domingo also emphasized the need for the DOH to increase the number of capable laboratories accredited to perform the PCR confirmatory tests. DOH-10 Regional Director Dr. Adriano Suba-an said they plan to convert the TB (tuberculosis) Reference Center at the DOH compound in Carmen, Cagayan de Oro City into a coronavirus disease COVID-19 testing laboratory during the Regional Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (RIATF-EID) held March 27 in Cagayan de Oro City. The DOH-10 TB Reference Center has an RT-PCR (real time polymerase chain reaction) equipment that can actually be used for the testing subject to compliance with COVID-19 testing standards and other requirements of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM). The  Indonesian Society of Respirology  (PDPI) has said diagnostic test kits for tuberculosis could be modified and used for COVID-19 since Cepheid, the US-based molecular diagnostics company producing the Xpert TBM/RIF diagnostic kits, has redesigned its Xpress Flu/RSV cartridges so that they can detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing the deadly COVID-19 disease. Dr. Faisal Yunus, a member of the PDPI advisory board, said regular tuberculosis diagnostic machines in Indonesia could now detect COVID-19 if their cartridges were replaced with the new redesigned cartridges, Faisal told The Jakarta Post recently. The technology recently received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and is now approved to run COVID-19 tests in the US.  “FDA remains steadfast in its obligation to protect the public. Despite the global crisis we are faced with, FDA continues to safeguard public health by ensuring that health commodities, especially those related to addressing the COVID 19 emergency, are certified following regulatory standards – through streamlined processes,” Domingo noted. “Let us remain vigilant and hopeful as we protect each other's welfare against those who seem to take advantage of this vulnerable situation. During this rapid increase of COVID-19 cases in the country, the agency continues to serve the people by giving them access to testing without compromising our mandate of ensuring the safety, efficacy and quality of every health product for the public,” he added.

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NGCP donates PhP1 BILLION to national government for COVID-19 response efforts

March 31, 2020

In support of President Rodrigo Duterte and the national government’s efforts to combat the outbreak of COVID-19 in the Philippines, grid operator and transmission service provider NGCP will be donating PhP 1 BILLION to aid medical frontliners. In a letter to the President, NGCP declared its support to the ongoing battle against the pandemic with a PhP 500,000,000 donation in the form of goods and medical equipment and another PhP 500,000,000 for the procurement of other COVID-19 response measures, as may be determined by the Office of the President. “Through our initial coordination with their Office, we were instructed to donate entirely in the form of medical equipment, with specific items such as video laryngoscopes, ventilators, and total face masks,” stated the company. The PhP 1Billion donation is over and above earlier NGCP assistance, including a donation of personal protective equipment (PPE), face masks, meals, and other supplies for the frontline workers in the health industry and the Meals on Wheels program conducted to distribute hot meals to indigent members of the community. NGCP’s technical partner, the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), also donated 500,000 face masks through the Philippine Red Cross. “Our stakeholders, particularly the public, can be assured that NGCP will continue to look for opportunities to support the government in battling this pandemic. We recognize that the only way to defeat this global health threat is through our collective efforts,” stated the company. NGCP is a Filipino-led, privately owned company in charge of operating, maintaining, and developing the country’s power grid, led by majority shareholders Henry Sy, Jr. and Robert Coyiuto, Jr.###                     

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