China mulls booster shots to step up herd immunity #SootinClaimon.Com

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China mulls booster shots to step up herd immunity

Although there isnt enough evidence now to support delivering COVID-19 booster shots to the general public, China is studying whether it is necessary to give additional doses to vulnerable groups and high-risk workers in order to boost immunity, health experts said.

Shao Yiming, a researcher at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said that based on initial observation, people with weak immune systems, such as the elderly and those suffering chronic illnesses, as well as workers at higher risk of contracting the virus or people planning to travel to high-risk areas, might need a booster dose six to 12 months after initial immunization.

“Whether this is necessary and when a booster shot should be rolled out are being researched,” he said during a news briefing on Saturday.

Shao said immunity triggered by any COVID-19 vaccines in use appears to decline to some extent as time goes by, but immunological memory is locked in, preparing bodies to swiftly generate strong antibodies when encountering the virus.

“For the general population who have been vaccinated within a year, there is no need to obtain a booster shot for now,” he said.

China’s mass immunization program is progressing smoothly, with over 1.65 billion doses administered as of Saturday, according to the National Health Commission.

The program had covered 150 million people age 60 and above and 12.48 million youths age 12 to 17 as of Wednesday, said He Qinghua, an official at the commission’s Bureau of Disease Prevention and Control.

However, questions on vaccines’ effectiveness and the necessity of a booster shot have been raised as the Delta variant, a highly contagious strain, has caused a local outbreak that was first detected in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, on July 20 and has spread to at least 14 provincial-level regions in the country.

Mi Feng, a spokesman for the commission, said on Saturday that China had reported 328 confirmed domestic infections in July, roughly equivalent to the total number of local cases from February to June.

“The main strain in circulation is the Delta variant, which poses a greater challenge to virus prevention and control work,” he said.

Feng Zijian, a researcher at the China CDC, said the transmissibility of the Delta variant is estimated to be nearly double that of the original strain, and it spreads much faster and likely increases the risk of developing severe symptoms.

“Available findings suggest that the Delta variant might diminish protection from COVID-19 vaccines, but current shots can still have good preventive and protective effects against the strain,” he said.

Shao added that breakthrough infections-people who contract the virus at least 14 days after being fully vaccinated-are relatively rare.

“No vaccine can provide 100 percent protection against viral infections. But on the whole, various COVID-19 variants can be controlled with existing vaccines,” he said, adding that studies also show that domestic COVID-19 vaccines can effectively reduce rates of hospitalization, severe cases and deaths.

Shao noted that many developed countries, despite their high vaccination coverage rates, are grappling with a resurgence of outbreaks due to a rush to relax anti-virus policies, such as wearing masks and maintaining social distancing.

“This shows that inoculation must be used in conjunction with strict disease control measures,” he said, calling on the public to continue practicing personal protective protocols.

Wang Huaqing, chief expert on immunization planning at the China CDC, said that it is not recommended at the moment to mix vaccines. He also urged the public to finish full immunization with multiple-dose vaccines on time.

Although the Delta variant is considered more transmissible and dangerous, He, from the commission, said the tried-and-tested virus control approach, including targeted lockdowns, rapid mass testing and isolation, is still effective at containing the virus.

However, he emphasized that implementation should be faster and more rigorous, and cooperation across different government departments and localities should be stepped up.

Published : August 02, 2021

By : WANG XIAOYU/China Daily/ANN

July exports best-ever in Korea’s history #SootinClaimon.Com

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July exports best-ever in Korea’s history

South Korea’s exports in July surged 29.6 percent to $55.4 billion on-year, a record monthly figure since the nation began compiling the data in 1956, according to the Trade Ministry Sunday.

In the first seven months of this year, Korea’s accumulated exports were worth $358.7 billion, setting another record. Also, this is the first time in 10 years that the country saw double digit growths for four consecutive months in 10 years — 41.2 percent in April, 45.6 percent in May, 39.8 percent in 29.8 percent and 29.6 percent in July. 

July exports best-ever in Korea’s historyJuly exports best-ever in Korea’s history

“For two straight months from June to July, exports of the nation’s 15 core products all increased, 13 of them witnessing double-digit growths. Also, for four consecutive months, Korea’s exports grew in all nine major markets,” a Trade Ministry official said.

Private and public experts, including those at the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade and the Bank of Korea, estimate the nation’s exports this year at between $601.7 billion and $610.5 billion, while its trade volume is projected at $1.15 trillion to $1.19 trillion.

The record performance was propelled by robust exports in both conventional and new sectors.

Overseas sales of chips, fueled by global server demands, spiked 39.6 percent to reach $11 billion in July on-year, surpassing $10.4 billion in July 2018 when the world was enjoying a chip “super cycle.”

In January, RAMeXchange, a research division of market tracker TrendForce, set the average contract price of an 8-gigabyte DRAM at $3.25, $3.50 and $3.75 in the second, third and fourth quarters this year, respectively. In June, RAMeXchange raised the figures to $3.80, $4.09 and $4.23. The price hike is expected to give a further boost to Korea’s chip industry.

Thanks to surging demand in packaging and quarantine products, exports of petrochemical products jumped 59.5 percent to $4.7 billion, while those of automobiles surged 12.3 percent to $4.1 billion buoyed by the global demand for eco-friendly vehicles.

Among emerging industries, exports of rechargeable batteries enjoyed a stellar 31.3 percent growth to $790 million.

Published : August 02, 2021

By : Kim Byung-wook/The Korea Herald/ANN

Semiconductor shortage buffets Japanese companies #SootinClaimon.Com

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Semiconductor shortage buffets Japanese companies

Amid the increasingly serious global shortage of semiconductors, automakers have been forced to reduce their output or postpone the release of new models. The repercussions are being felt amid a wide range of products, including home appliances, computers and telecommunication devices.

As if preying on companies’ fears, counterfeit semiconductors have been appearing more and more on the market.

■ Counterfeit chips

Oki Engineering Co., based in Nerima Ward, Tokyo, launched a service in early June to check whether semiconductors are genuine. It now receives inquiries every month about whether client companies can trust certain products.

Semiconductors have been brought to the firm, mainly by electronic machinery makers, sometimes numbering in the thousands in just one batch.

Oki Engineering staff pick up the semiconductors, which measure one to three millimeters on each side, using sucker-like devices designed exclusively for this purpose, and closely examine them under a microscope.

They confirm whether there are suspicious elements in the corporate logos and serial numbers on the surface, and also check circuit patterns inside them with X-ray machines, comparing them with legitimate semiconductors.

About 30% of the semiconductors they have checked have proved to be of poor quality. They included old models deemed to have been produced more than 10 years ago, and secondhand ones that were likely removed from discarded home appliances.

According to Oki Engineering, a sizable number of the faulty products were counterfeit. For example, some had proper casings but were empty inside, while others used major manufacturers’ logos without permission.

Counterfeit or poor-quality semiconductor chips are not a new phenomenon, but the problem rapidly became pronounced as the semiconductor shortage intensified.

The semiconductors in question are believed to mainly come from China, South Korea and Southeast Asia, and they are mainly traded on the internet. In many cases, they are bought and delivered by trading companies that received orders for semiconductors from client manufacturers but were unable to procure proper ones.

Problematic semiconductors are directly installed in such consumer products as drive recorders in cars, facial massagers and electronic cigarettes. After being sold, some of these products have failed to work from the outset.

There are also rare situations in which problematic chips could cause products to catch fire.

■ Race to obtain goods

Large electronics stores in Tokyo feature many signs these days telling customers that they will have to wait for the delivery of such products as telephones, cameras and printers. Unable to procure semiconductors, makers have reduced their output of such products, hence the delays.

In early August, Honda Motor Co. suspended the production of fully assembled cars at its Suzuka Factory in Mie Prefecture for five days. Nissan Motor Co. postponed the release of its new electric vehicle Ariya from the middle of this year to winter 2021.

In China, where consumer spending recovered early among major economies, cars fresh off production lines are in short supply because of the shortage of semiconductors. As a result, the number of cars sold there in June fell 12.4% from a year ago.

Reduced output of cars and home appliances also affects material manufacturing industries, such as steelmakers and nonferrous metal makers.

In a composite index (CI) of business conditions in May, which the Cabinet Office announced on July 7, the coinciding index indicating the current economic situation fell 2.6 points to 92.7, the first decline in three months. The CI is calculated with a base of 100 in 2015.

Demand for semiconductors has grown rapidly and in tandem with the spread of teleworking amid the novel coronavirus crisis. Since autumn last year, new car sales in North America and other major markets have rapidly recovered.

As a result, companies in a wide range of business sectors are waging a fierce battle to obtain semiconductors.

In March this year, Renesas Electronics Corp., a major semiconductor manufacturer, had a fire break out at its Naka Factory in Ibaraki Prefecture, and it took about four months for factory operations to fully resume. This further exacerbated the shortage of semiconductor products at home and abroad.

Even if a manufacturer aims to increase its output, it takes about a year from when the construction of a new factory is green-lit to when it starts production. There are several hundred manufacturing processes involved in making semiconductors, and it takes several months from receiving an order to delivering it.

Kazuhiro Sugiyama, a consultant with Omdia Japan, said: “Some major semiconductor manufacturers are fully booked with orders through 2022, and they have little room to increase output. It seems the shortage will be resolved only in or after autumn 2022.”

■ Domestic production

Semiconductors have been called “industry’s rice,” likening them to the staple food of Japan, because they are the core parts of a wide range of products. Many countries, especially the United States and China, have been strengthening their efforts to secure semiconductor-related companies and technologies for their own needs.

In December 2020, China enacted a law to control imports and introduced restrictions on the products related to cyber-security. Similarly in 2010, when tensions rose between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands, Beijing started restricting exports of rare earths to Japan.

There are fears that China will heighten diplomatic pressure by using the supply of semiconductors for political leverage.

To cope with this possibility, the U.S. government shifted to a policy of increasing domestic production of semiconductors. In June this year, it announced a plan to provide at least $50 billion (about ¥5.5 trillion) in aid for production and research into such products.

Intel Corp. of the United States and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), among other companies, will invest the equivalent of trillions of yen for this purpose in Arizona.

European countries, Taiwan and South Korea have announced aid measures for companies that produce or develop technologies inside their bloc or nation, seeking to avoid excessive reliance on imports of semiconductors.

Published : August 02, 2021

By : Chihiro Nakajima and Yo Nakanishi/The Japan News/ANN

Border controls in Metro Manila meant to stop exodus to provinces – Año #SootinClaimon.Com

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Border controls in Metro Manila meant to stop exodus to provinces – Año

MANILA, Philippines — Checkpoints were activated at 12 a.m. on Sunday at the borders of the National Capital Region (NCR) and the neighboring provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, and Cavite — collectively called the NCR Plus — to stop the exodus of people in the capital region to other nearby provinces, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said.

Anew lockdown or enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) will take effect in NCR from Aug. 6 to 20. The OCTA Research Group had been urging this restriction to help contain the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant of the novel coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Marikina Rep. Stella Quimbo called for the establishment of business and transportation “bubbles” to keep the economy running, as she warned that the country could lose as much as P18 billion a day because of the lockdown.

Año said in a statement that the checkpoints, or quarantine control points (QCPs), were set up at the borders of Bulacan with Pampanga and Nueva Ecija, Rizal with Quezon, Laguna with Batangas and Quezon, and Cavite with Batangas.

“At the moment, the QCPs are at the borders of Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, and Cavite with adjoining provinces, but once we move to ECQ starting Aug. 6, checkpoints will be located inside Metro Manila,” he said.

‘Hard lockdown’

In a radio interview, Año noted that people in NCR will likely take advantage of the period before the lockdown, which takes effect on Aug. 6, to move out of that area.

“If we don’t do this, people will leave the NCR, even those with the Delta variant who will go to different places and spread it,” he told dzBB.

“First we have to shut down the mobility of people to break the chain of transmission. So the virus would die naturally wherever it is incubating,” Año said.

“No country in the Southeast Asian region has stopped the Delta variant without resorting to a hard lockdown on major cities. Delta variant is really scary,” he added.

But Año said persons who need to travel may present at the QCPs identification cards issued last year by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases or any valid ID or document proving that their travel is essential.


Public transportation

In an interview also with dzBB on Sunday, National Task Force Against COVID-19 spokesperson Restituto Padilla Jr. said public transportation will be allowed during ECQ to complement the government’s vaccination drive but will be limited for that purpose and other essential needs.

The government aims to ramp up vaccination during the lockdown.

PNP chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said he had placed a medical reserve force “on standby in case they will be tapped in the vaccination process during the two-week ECQ.”

The Lawyers for Commuters Safety and Protection, a group of commuter advocates, said public transportation was still vital during the lockdown.


“Land public transport is very needed for the mobility of Filipinos who are permitted to go out [under ECQ], especially for doctors going to hospitals, those buying essential goods, or are in emergency situations,” the group said in its statement.

“Total suspension of public transport is not needed. Public transport must be allowed depending on the reduced capacity and health protocols agreed upon by national government agencies,” it added.


Quimbo proposed that the government allow “business bubbles” to operate even under ECQ now that millions of Filipinos have been fully vaccinated and testing has become routinary in many places.

“By creating these bubbles to promote micro-herd immunity and safe spaces, it is entirely possible that we will not incur the same devastating economic losses we suffered during the previous ECQs,” she said in her statement.


“Through being vaccinated and implementing these business bubbles, people will then have increased mobility,” she added.

An economist, Quimbo said the ECQ this month could lead to a loss of P18 billion a day using national income data—higher than the P12.9 billion a day during the ECQ enforced in March amid a new surge in COVID-19 cases at that time, she said.

“As we have repeatedly argued before, health and economic concerns are not mutually exclusive. We can work for the recovery of both fronts simultaneously,” Quimbo said.

She renewed her call for the Duterte administration to pass the Bayanihan 3 stimulus package to fast-track the procurement and rollout of vaccines.

In his statement, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said Bayanihan 3 “should not be included in the 2022 budget proposal because our affected people need the ‘ayuda’ (aid) now.”

He said funds could be tapped from a variety of sources, including the government’s savings and the allotments for intelligence.


Published : August 02, 2021

By : Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN

Myanmar junta chief names himself prime minister, says will cooperate with Asean #SootinClaimon.Com

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Myanmar junta chief names himself prime minister, says will cooperate with Asean

BANGKOK – Myanmars military junta on Sunday (Aug 1) declared itself caretaker government of the embattled country, with chief Min Aung Hlaing named as prime minister.

Myanmar junta chief names himself prime minister, says will cooperate with Asean

The announcement will likely raise the stakes as Asean foreign ministers hold a virtual meeting on Monday to find the way forward in Myanmar’s six-month-old political and humanitarian crisis.

Although Asean has not officially recognised the junta, its representatives have been taking part in official Asean meetings. Similar access has not been given to leaders of the rival National Unity Government which includes elected lawmakers ousted by the Feb 1 military coup.

In a 50-minute speech broadcast over state media on Sunday, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing – dressed in a traditional jacket instead of a military uniform – promised to hold a “free and fair” election and lift the current state of emergency by August 2023. He claims the November 2020 election that re-elected the National League for Democracy (NLD) government was fraudulent.

The military chief also said: “Myanmar is ready to work on Asean cooperation within the Asean framework, including the dialogue with the special Asean envoy of Myanmar.”

Earlier, he appeared to have dismissed a five-point consensus on the Myanmar crisis hammered out by Asean leaders in April. The junta said it would cooperate with Asean only if the steps proposed complemented its road map.


Since April, Asean has struggled to pick a special envoy to facilitate a dialogue among Myanmar’s political stakeholders.

Gen Min Aung Hlaing said on Sunday that his administration had chosen former Thai deputy foreign minister Virasakdi Futrakul, one of the nominees for the role, “but for various reasons the new proposals were released and we could not keep moving onward”.

Other nominees were reportedly former Indonesian foreign minister Hassan Wirajuda, Brunei’s second foreign affairs minister Erywan Yusof and veteran Malaysian diplomat Razali Ismail.

Myanmar’s healthcare system, already debilitated by medical workers’ strikes and military reprisals on dissidents, has been overwhelmed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Officially, the country logged 4,725 new cases on Saturday. But its death toll reached 392 – triple that of neighbouring Thailand, which is logging four times as many new infections.

Given the severe constraints on the testing capacities within Myanmar, medical experts said the country’s real Covid-19 caseload is far higher. Many patients are being treated at home by volunteer doctors and charity workers, who told The Straits Times they have to work discreetly to evade arrest.

Meanwhile, violent military crackdowns on people opposing the coup have spawned “people’s defence forces” which are waging localised insurgencies against the junta. According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, at least 940 people have been killed by the junta since the coup.

The numbers are disputed by Gen Min Aung Hlaing, who blamed “NLD extremists” on Sunday for inciting healthcare workers to turn against the state. He alleged that people were committing “bioterrorism” by spreading fake news about Covid-19.

The Special Advisory Council for Myanmar, comprising a group of international experts working on human rights in the country, has called for international humanitarian intervention in Myanmar.

“The makeshift efforts to ease the plight of people crossing into Thailand and India are far from being able to roll back the epicentre of the pandemic within the country, which needs to be the primary strategic objective of massive regional and international action,” said council member Marzuki Darusman in a statement released on July 22.

Published : August 02, 2021

By : Tan Hui Yee/The Straits Times/ANN

Kakao founder becomes richest person in S. Korea #SootinClaimon.Com

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Kakao founder becomes richest person in S. Korea

Kim Beom-su, the founder of the company behind South Korea’s most popular messaging app KakaoTalk, is now the richest person in the country, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index on Friday.

Kim has seen his fortune reach $13.4 billion this year, surpassing Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman and de-facto leader Lee Jae-yong, whose net worth was estimated at $12.1 billion.

Kim’s assets grew by $6 billion in 2021 alone as Kakao shares soared 91 percent, boosted by the stock market debuts or debut plans of its several subsidiaries.

Bloomberg said that Kim’s case is an example of how self-made technology entrepreneurs are climbing the superrich list in South Korea, overtaking members of families that control the country’s decades-old conglomerates.

Kim, 55, born as the third of five children in a poor family, grew up in a small one-bedroom apartment. His parents reportedly earned their living mainly through manual labor jobs and he was the only child who made his way into a university.

After working five years at Samsung SDS, an IT services affiliate of Samsung Electronics, Kim opened a PC cafe and later founded an online game platform operator, Hangame Communications, which was eventually merged with search engine Naver to become the country’s dominant web portal, NHN.


In 2010, Kim and his startup firm launched KakaoTalk, which soon became the country’s dominant messaging app.

Over the past decade, Kakao has grown fast. As of Friday, Kakao and its two listed affiliates marked an aggregate market cap of 73 trillion won.

Kim, who now serves as the board chairman at Kakao, holds around 24 percent of Kakao’s shares, including the ones he owns through K Cube Holdings, Kim’s fully owned investment firm, according to a regulatory filing in May.

In February, he pledged to donate more than half of his assets. In the following month, he joined the Giving Pledge, a global campaign created by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett for the world‘s wealthiest individuals to give back the majority of their wealth.

Published : August 01, 2021

By : The Korea Herald / ANN

New regulations for military personnel to take effect Sunday #SootinClaimon.Com

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New regulations for military personnel to take effect Sunday

BEIJING – A new law on protecting military personnels status, rights, and interests will come into effect on Sunday, which marks Chinas Army Day.

The law was adopted on June 10 and stipulates the benefits enjoyed by military personnel regarding salaries, housing, healthcare services, insurance, vacations, education, and others.

It also laid down how families of martyrs should receive preferential treatment for matters including employment and their children’s education.


In addition, starting from Sunday, military personnel left with disabilities will be given an average of a 10-percent increase in their pensions under the government’s new program.

Starting from August, a new judicial interpretation will also take effect, banning the misuse of facial recognition at business or public premises.

According to the new document, misusing the technology of facial recognition, including recognizing or analyzing facial data, could constitute an infringement of personality rights or interests.

Other new regulations coming into force next month will impose stricter management on fire safety issues and the pork processing industry.

Published : August 01, 2021

By : China Daily / ANN

Protesters in downtown Kuala Lumpur demand PM Muhyiddins resignation #SootinClaimon.Com

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Protesters in downtown Kuala Lumpur demand PM Muhyiddins resignation

KUALA LUMPUR – Several hundred protesters marched peacefully in Kuala Lumpurs city centre on Saturday (July 31) to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

Roads around Merdeka Square, where National Day parades were often held, were sealed off as protesters dressed in black took to the streets. The demonstration was organised by a coalition of youth and civil society groups, called the Sekretariat Solidariti Rakyat (People’s Solidarity Secretariat).

Some brought mock corpses wrapped in white cloth to symbolise the high number of daily Covid-19 deaths in Malaysia, in a criticism of the government’s handling of the pandemic.

The coalition is also calling for a full parliamentary sitting and automatic bank loan moratoriums to ease hardship fuelled by the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown.

Malaysia’s daily Covid-19 cases hit a new record high on Saturday, the last day of the month, at 17,786. This was more than doubled the 6,988 cases notched on July 1.

Traffic police and plainclothes police were seen standing by at the scene, The Star reported. Some marshals donning white safety hats and medics wearing red safety hats were also present.


City police chief Azmi Abu Kassim warned that those who violated Covid-19 health protocols would face police action.

According to The Star, the Commissioner, Datuk Azmi, said the police have not received any application or notice from the organising committee of the proposed gathering.

District police said on Saturday that they would call up the organisers and those who took part in the rally.

“Under the Movement Control Order, no public assemblies are allowed including social gatherings, and sports activities,” Mohamad Zainal Abdullah, police chief for Dang Wangi district, told a news conference.

He said police estimated about 450 people attended the rally. The organisers claimed 2,000 people participated.

Youth activist Sarah Irdina, 20, said she was detained for nearly 11 hours, two days ago, over her Twitter posts about the planned protest.

“This failed government’s inhumane treatment of those that fight for a better Malaysia is what keeps hurting us Malaysians, when their job is supposedly to protect us. This is why we #lawan (fight),” she wrote on Twitter on Friday (July 30).

The protest comes as PM Muhyiddin faces a constitutional crisis amid pressure to step down after clashing with the King, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah.

The palace on Thursday insisted that the King did not endorse the government’s unilateral move to withdraw the ordinances under the state of emergency which he proclaimed in January. The state of emergency is due to expire on Sunday.

There had been calls, even from Mr Muhyiddin’s own allies in Umno party, for him to quit.

The protesters dispersed peacefully after two hours, police said.

Published : August 01, 2021

By : The Straits Times / ANN

ECQ will give authorities time to prepare for a surge – DOH #SootinClaimon.Com

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ECQ will give authorities time to prepare for a surge – DOH

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) does not expect the strict lockdown measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus in Metro Manila where the number of active cases daily could rise to 18,000 and up to 30,000 by September, but it will give time for authorities to prepare to deal with a possible surge.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Saturday said the figures were estimates made by experts from the Autumn Group and a team that employed the Feasibility Analysis of Syndromic Surveillance using Spatio-Temporal Epidemiological Modeler For Early Detection of Diseases, or FASSSTER system.

“What we’re saying is these lockdowns will help us prepare the system, but it is not going to control the spread. We still need to prepare the system, do what we have to do to prevent the further spread of this Delta variant,” she said during Saturday’s Laging Handa briefing.

“Please take note that these are initial projections and DOH, with our experts, have provided comments and recommendations to further improve on this,” she later told reporters.

Metro Manila will come under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the strictest government lockdown category, from Aug. 6 to Aug. 20 as part of efforts to deal with the threat posed by the highly transmissible Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Lockdown scenarios

Vergeire said the two groups provided forecasts for different lockdown scenarios, including four weeks of total lockdown.

“In these scenarios, there was an increase in the number of cases from 18,000 to 30,000 plus cases. This is if we are under ECQ,” she said.

The FASSSTER team is composed of experts in disease modeling, health informatics, social computing and health systems development, according to the DOH.

Vergeire did not specify the “preparations” needed to deal with the expected rise in cases in the National Capital Region (NCR).

Earlier this week, Dr. Alethea de Guzman, acting director of the Epidemiology Bureau of the DOH, advised local governments to strengthen their prevent-detect-isolate-treat-reintegrate strategies and to expand their health-care systems to handle the possible rise in the number of cases due to the more contagious variant.

The Delta variant is one of the factors that the DOH is now considering with regard to the increase in coronavirus infections, though it cannot be certain as not all samples are subjected to genome sequencing to identify the variant responsible, Vergeire said.


She reminded the public to be doubly careful because Delta was highly transmissible, given that those who were infected carry a higher viral load that could be spread even during brief encounters.

“We could have a fleeting moment [with an infected person] and we could be infected,” Vergeire said.

Business slowdown

The chances of vaccinated persons infecting others is not lessened because of the high viral load from those infected, she added.

But Vergeire said there was no sufficient evidence yet to say that the variant causes more severe infection.


Under ECQ, only essential businesses would be allowed to fully operate and the movement of the general population would be restricted.

Business groups and the country’s economic managers are expecting another economic slowdown resulting from the two-week ECQ in NCR, the country’s industrial and financial hub.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua earlier said that each week of ECQ in Metro Manila would cost the economy P105 billion in foregone output.

He added that the National Economic and Development Authority, which he heads, also estimated that a week of ECQ would push 177,000 more Filipinos into poverty, and 444,000 would temporarily lose their jobs.

Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado on Friday said the government was looking for funds to compensate those who would lose their jobs during the ECQ.


The Aug. 6 to Aug. 20 lockdown would be the third time the national capital would be under ECQ. The first was in mid-March to mid-May last year, which devastated the economy. The second was in late March to mid-April this year due to a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Based on data from the DOH, there were 12,108 active cases in NCR on July 30. There were 63,474 active cases in the national capital on March 29 at the start of the second ECQ.

Active cases at 60K

On Saturday, the DOH reported 60,887 active cases nationwide.

It said that it recorded 8,147 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total caseload to 1,588,965. It was the second straight day that new cases numbered more than 8,000.

The recovery of 9,117 patients brought the total number of survivors to 1,500,189. The death toll rose by 167 to 27,889, the DOH said.

Of the 60,887 active cases, it said 93.8 percent were mild, 1.3 percent asymptomatic, 1.3 percent critical, 2.1 percent severe and 1.52 percent moderate.

The DOH also reported that of the 54,857 people screened for the virus on Thursday, 8,063 individuals tested positive, for a positivity rate of 14.7 percent.

The World Health Organization says that a positivity rate of less than 5 percent indicates that virus spread is under control.

At the height of the surge fueled by the Alpha and Beta variants of the virus last April, the country’s positivity rate reached 24 percent. The Delta variant is said to be up to 60 percent more transmissible than the Alpha variant.

Published : August 01, 2021

By : Inquirer / ANN

HCM City, southern region lockdown extended by two weeks amid soaring COVID-19 cases #SootinClaimon.Com

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HCM City, southern region lockdown extended by two weeks amid soaring COVID-19 cases

HÀ NỘI — HCM City along with 18 southern provinces and cities will continue to enforce lockdown measures in line with the Government’s Directive 16 for two more weeks, per a dispatch issued by Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính on Saturday.

The original lockdown order for the entire southern region with a population of about 35 million people, effective since July 19, was set to expire on August 1 but the fourth-wave COVID-19 outbreak has shown no signs of letting up.

The Prime Minister wants all localities under Directive 16 – which includes measures like the closure of all non-essential businesses, leaving home only for essential goods and services, and suspension of public transport – to strictly abide by the rules and stand ready to roll out more stringent measures if necessary.

Most of southern localities, including HCM City, Bình Dương, and Đồng Nai asked people not to go outside at night.

The order goes on to state that local authorities must step up their information campaign and carry out immediately necessary measures to ensure the livelihood and healthcare of residents to ensure they can remain where they are.

The order came as thousands of people – mostly workers from the central region and other southern localities – have left or were making plans to leave HCM City on their personal vehicles for their hometown due to the worsening COVID-19 outbreak, business closures, the imposition of lockdown, and the adverse impacts it was having on their livelihoods.

The local governments where lockdown is in effect have been told they must not let residents leave their places of residence for another locality after July 31 until the end of lockdown (unless authorised).

“Leaders of provinces and cities are responsible to the Prime Minister if they let people travel out of their localities on their own. For people who want to leave one province for another, all relevant localities’ authorities must organise the pick-up and drop-off sites to ensure the safety of the community, as well as arrange testing, transportation by car (trucks can be used to carry people’s motorbikes if people travel by motorbike), handover protocols, quarantine facilities and medical supervision in accordance with regulations, in order to not let the disease spread,” the dispatch reads.

The Ministry of Public Security has been tasked with consulting local authorities with regard to transportation and routes.


The dispatch notes that if the social distancing measures are effective, and if the situation is under control, provincial and municipal authorities could consider lifting restrictions for certain areas under their jurisdiction. For inter-provincial areas, however, restriction removal would need the agreement of all concerned localities and the plan would have to be submitted to the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control before any decision was made.

All local governments across the country need to immediately provide food and medical attention for all workers suffering from income loss or those without savings. Support for their people who are working or living in HCM City or elsewhere with complicated COVID-19 situations must be provided.

The Prime Minister urged a faster rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and emphasised that no dose should go to waste. He also said that administrators of the vaccination programme must ensure priority groups receive theirs first and that there are not incidents of abuses of power to administer vaccines to ineligible persons.

The Government leader also called for the participation of medical workers in the private sector in the local COVID-19 fight and said they should stand ready to reinforce localities with high case numbers in line with the health ministry’s direction.

The Ministry of Public Security will need to lead efforts to handle fake news that undermine COVID-19 prevention and control efforts.

The Ministry of Health has also been told to shorten administrative procedures related to production and the supply of COVID-19 vaccines and drugs, and review and propose additional appropriate support policies for medical staff and frontline forces. — VNS

Published : August 01, 2021

By : Vietnam News / ANN