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Philippines gets P269M from US for fight vs. COVID-19

Washington has approved an additional P269 million or about $5.3 million aid to the Philippines to support its coronavirus response operations, its embassy in Manila said Wednesday.

The new assistance brings to P470 million or $9.3 million the total U.S. Covid-19 assistance to the Philippines.

In a statement, the US embassy said "

the U.S. government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), "is collaborating with the Philippine government to implement internationally-recognized prevention, control, and response strategies to protect against infectious diseases."

The announcement was made days after US President Donald Trump offered additional Covid-19 response aid to President Rodrigo Duterte in a phone conversation last April 19.

"This newest tranche of U.S. assistance will support laboratory and specimen-transport systems and intensify case-finding and disease surveillance," the embassy said.

It will also assist Filipino and international technical experts in risk communication, infection prevention and control efforts, handwashing and hygiene promotion, and community-level preparedness and response.

Initial US assistance to the Philippines amounted to P203 million or $4 million plus a donation of 1,300 cots to Philippine medical facilities.

According to the embassy, US assistance has boosted the Department of Health's Covid-19 testing capacity by upgrading laboratories, providing laboratory supplies, and strengthening specimen transport systems, which contributed to an increase in the country’s testing capacity from 200 to approximately 3,000 tests per day.

It also cited that USAID’s online learning modules boosted capacities in more than 100 hospitals across the country with the most up-to-date COVID-19 infection prevention and control information and skills.

The USAID, Washington's lead government agency for international development and disaster assistance, is also supporting DOH communications platforms to rapidly translate and communicate the latest guidelines and policies for improved implementation of virus response.

The aid agency, the embassy said, likewise assisted the DOH to develop and launch a nationwide commodity and logistics tracking tool that offers real-time data on stores of life-saving COVID-19 commodities, improving the availability and appropriate management and delivery to the areas of greatest need.

Currently, USAID is expanding community access to water, sanitation, hygiene services, and commodities to prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. "Funding also aids Filipino and international technical experts in data collection to enhance COVID-19 response and preparedness, including support for two surveillance experts who are assisting the DOH Epidemiology Bureau with Analysis and reporting of COVID-19 cases," the embassy said.

The Philippines has recorded 6,599 cases and 437 deaths. -NB, GMA News