Philippines’ Duterte promises payment as Red Cross stops COVID-19 tests

MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Friday his government will pay the 931 million pesos ($19.25 million) it owes the Red Cross after the humanitarian agency stopped conducting COVID-19 tests.

The Philippine Red Cross (PRC), which has conducted 1.1 million swab tests and accounts for quarter of the country’s output, on Friday stopped providing testing services until it gets paid, prompting the country’s limited number of laboratories to fill the gap.

“The president has given his commitment that the government will pay its obligation to the PRC,” Duterte’s spokesman, Harry Roque, said in a statement. The government is calling on the PRC to resume its testing services, Roque added.

Returning overseas Filipino workers, frontline healthcare workers and individuals in large swabbing facilities benefit from free COVID-19 swab tests by the PRC. Testing cost is charged to Philippine Health Insurance Corp (Philhealth), the state health insurer.

But PRC said Philhealth had 931 million pesos in overdue obligations as of Oct. 13, hampering its ability to replenish test kits and pay for laboratory workers.

Returning Filipino workers need to test negative from COVID-19 before being allowed to leave quarantine hotels. The presidential office asked for patience and understanding of stranded overseas Filipino workers as it resolves the issue.

PRC said it would still conduct swab tests for paying clients.

With 365,799 confirmed infections and 6,915 deaths, the Philippines has the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases and fatalities in Southeast Asia behind Indonesia.

($1 = 48.36 Philippine pesos)

(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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Top Council official tests positive for coronavirus – POLITICO

Council Secretary-General Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen, the top civil servant who huddles with EU leaders during their highest-level summit meetings, has tested positive for coronavirus after a routine test conducted Tuesday, officials said.

Tranholm-Mikkelsen, a veteran Danish diplomat, has no symptoms of COVID-19, officials said, but will isolate, in accordance with medical guidelines.

Like other essential workers, and because of his routine proximity to leaders, Tranholm-Mikkelsen is tested on a regular basis. His most recent test prior to Tuesday, on October 14, was negative.

Officials said that Tranholm-Mikkelsen, 57, has adhered carefully to the Council’s strict health protocols, including social distancing in all meetings. While he was in meetings with Council President Charles Michel, the officials said all sanitary rules were followed and Michel was not considered at risk of infection because the two were not in close contact. Michel also tested negative on Thursday, officials said.

As infections have surged across Europe, a growing number of senior political figures have tested positive. Belgian Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmès, 45, is being treated in intensive care after testing positive last week. German Health Minister Jens Spahn, 40, also tested positive this week.

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Bledisloe Cup: Wallabies vs All Blacks, Michael Hooper, Captain, 100 Tests, Dave Rennie, Michael Cheika

Michael Hooper has always been ahead of the game in some way or another.

At just 19 years old and a fresh graduate from St. Pius X College in Chatswood, Hooper was thrown his Super Rugby debut for the ACT Brumbies.

Six years on, he’d become the youngest player to record 100 appearances having already skippered the Waratahs to their maiden title in 2014 in place of the injured Dave Dennis.

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Michael Hooper of the Wallabies looks dejected at a wet Newcastle. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

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Bathurst 1000, COVID-19, Supercars, raw sewage, tests, symptoms

Participants and spectators at this year’s Bathurst 1000 have been urged to monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 after the virus was detected in sewage.

NSW Health on Wednesday night placed anyone who was at the race, as well as Bathurst residents, on high alert after remnants of the virus was found in the area.

The public health alert says the sample could indicate a current or previous infection in someone who attended Sunday’s race.

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Preston school closes after student tests positive for COVID-19

The principal said he believed there had been a misunderstanding that led to the family sending their child to school.

“We’re not trying to find a fault in this one,” he said. “The best thing is to see what we can do from now on.”

Mr Ozyurek said he received a call from the Health Department on Tuesday inquiring about the student’s attendance at the school, when he was told the boy was meant to still be in isolation.

The principal said he was not advised to close the school at that stage, but did so anyway out of precaution.

“I made the executive decision to close the school,” the said. “We can’t take any chances.”


The school was officially ordered to close on Wednesday when the boy tested positive.

“We gave them [DHHS] all the contact numbers [of close contacts],” Mr Ozyurek said.

“I’m hoping and praying that the classroom teacher has not picked up anything.”

East Preston Islamic College is a not-for-profit school with about 600 students from kindergarten to year 12.

Primary-aged students at the school had only returned to face-to-face learning last week.

Of the three new COVID-19 cases reported on Wednesday, two were linked to the “northern metro region community outbreak:, which now has 23 cases in total, with 14 active.

The third new case was a household contact of a known case.

Members of the public in the Preston and Heidelberg areas received text messages on Wednesday advising anyone with symptoms to get tested immediately.

Comment has been sought from the Health Department.

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East Preston Islamic College closes after student tests positive to COVID-19

A school in Melbourne’s north will be closed for the rest of the week due to a year 5 student testing positive for COVID-19.

East Preston Islamic College’s principal, Ekrem Ozyurek, said the boy stayed home from school last week, because his siblings had tested positive for coronavirus in recent weeks.

The boy came back to school this week and attended on Monday and Tuesday, after his mother brought a letter from Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) dated October 17 clearing the other children of having coronavirus.

But on Tuesday DHHS called the school and said the boy was supposed to still be self-isolating as he waited for a day-11 test.

Mr Ozyurek closed the school as a precaution, and on Wednesday morning DHHS informed the school the boy had tested positive for COVID-19.

Mr Ozyurek said there seemed to have been some confusion because the boy’s parents said he had tested negative before this test.

“As school just got back we were thinking, ‘Yes, we’re back finally,’ then this happened,” he said.

“It happened to us today and it can happen to another person. It may not happen for two weeks and it could happen another week later — we don’t know.

“So my view is that we have to put everything aside and find out a way of working together.

“We aren’t blaming anybody.”

Mr Ozyurek said the school had provided DHHS with a list of the boy’s classmates and teachers for contact tracing.

The principal said the next step was waiting for DHHS’s recommendations on when it would be safe to reopen the school.

“If everything is OK we’ll be back to normal on Monday,” he said.

DHHS has been contacted for comment.

More to come.

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Giro d’Italia rider Fernando Gaviria tests positive to coronavirus, as race faces uncertain fate

Colombian sprinter Fernando Gaviria has become the latest cyclist to withdraw from the Giro d’Italia after testing positive for the coronavirus as the race heads toward an uncertain conclusion this weekend.

A staff member for Team AG2R La Mondiale was the only other positive out of 492 tests carried out on Sunday and Monday to coincide with the race’s second rest day, organisers RCS Sport said.

The race is scheduled to end on Sunday in Milan, the capital of the Lombardy region, which is putting in place a nightly curfew beginning on Thursday because of a rising number of COVID-19 cases in an area already hit hard during the first wave of infections.

Two other stages in the final week of the race are also slated to ride through Lombardy.

Race director Mauro Vegni has said from the start that the race’s greatest achievement would be reaching the finish in Milan.

The three-week event was already rescheduled from its usual slot in May because of the pandemic.

Gaviria’s UAE Team Emirates said the rider “was immediately isolated following the test result and is feeling well and is completely asymptomatic”.

The team noted that Gaviria also had COVID-19 in March.

Gaviria has won five stages at the Giro during his career — four in 2017 and one in 2019, plus two stages at the 2018 Tour de France.

Overall contenders Simon Yates and Steven Kruijswijk had already been withdrawn from the race after testing positive, as had Australian standout Michael Matthews.

Yates’ Mitchelton-Scott team and Kruijswijk’s Jumbo-Visma team withdrew their entire squads last week following a series of positive results from the first rest day.

Team Emirates said all of its other riders and staff came back negative in the latest round of exams. The team added that its medical staff was “monitoring the situation closely and doing all they can to ensure that we can proceed safely”.


Italy added another 10,874 confirmed coronavirus infections to its official toll on Tuesday.

The Government has implemented new restrictions to curb nightlife and socialising in hopes of slowing the resurging outbreak.

Another 89 people died, bringing Italy’s official COVID-19 death toll to 36,705, the second highest in Europe after Britain.

A face-mask wearing cyclist in a pink jersey sprays champagne after a Giro d'Italia stage.
João Almeida still holds the leader’s pink jersey with five days left in the Giro d’Italia.(AP/LaPresse: Marco Alpozzi)

Portuguese rider João Almeida leads the race by 17 seconds ahead of Dutch rival Wilco Kelderman.

Team Bahrain-McLaren’s Jan Tratnik earned his first stage victory in a Grand Tour by winning the 16th stage, beating Australian rider Ben O’Connor by seven seconds at the end of the hilly 229 kilometre route from Udine to San Daniele del Friuli.

Neither of them had ever won a stage in a Grand Tour and both entered the final stretch together.

However, it was Tratnik who crossed the line first, with his arms outstretched and tears streaming down his face. O’Connor — riding for NTT Pro Cycling — thumped the handlebars in frustration.


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Tom Hawkins tests negative for COVID-19 and given all-clear, says AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan

McLachlan disclosed Hawkins’ test result, but wasn’t sure if he was supposed to do so.

“100 per cent [Hawkins has tested negative for COVID-19]. That was last night,” the CEO said.

“You didn’t know that?

“I don’t know if I should have told that … things get out, but people having runny noses every day … you get used to it, that’s life.”

After a tumultuous season, McLachlan said he had always believed the AFL would make it to the grand final.

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Giro d’Italia: Fernando Gaviria tests positive for second time this year

Fernando Gaviria is the fourth rider to test positive for coronavirus at this year’s Giro

UAE Team Emirates rider Fernando Gaviria has tested positive for coronavirus for a second time this year and is out of the Giro d’Italia.

The Colombian tested positive in the Giro’s latest round of testing, as did a Team AG2R La Mondiale staff member.

Gaviria also tested positive for Covid-19 at the UAE Tour in February.

He is the fourth rider to test positive at the Giro and will not start Tuesday’s 16th stage – therefore ruling him out of the remainder of the race.

His team said he was “immediately isolated” following the test result and is “completely asymptomatic”.

“All other riders and staff returned a negative test, and will undergo further testing today,” a UAE Team Emirates statement added.

“The team’s medical staff are monitoring the situation closely and doing all they can to ensure the we can proceed safely.”

Two teams – Mitchelton-Scott and Jumbo-Visma – have already withdrawn from the three-week race because of positive cases in their camps.

Last week, one team called for it to end a week early, citing a “clearly compromised” coronavirus bubble.

EF Pro Cycling said on Sunday they wanted the race to end to avoid “a chaotic withdrawal on a team-by-team basis”.

The UCI refused their demand, saying race organisers have “committed to implementing the measures to secure the race bubble”.


BBC Sport’s Matt Warwick

Giro organisers had breathed a sign of relief last week after the whole peloton and staff retested negative days after three riders and two teams left the race after contracting Covid-19.

While a further two positive tests might not seem too alarming, this is Gavaria’s second positive after he was one of the first riders to get coronavirus back in February – prompting a season shut-down until August.

The Colombian’s form has been poor at a race where he won four stages in 2017. During stage 11, in which Frenchman Araud Demare emulated that feat himself, Gavaria got into position to race and almost immediately sat up on his bike and let his rivals tear away in front of him, displaying an at-the-time perplexing level of lethargy.

The 26-year-old’s UAE-Team Emirates squad – who won the Tour de France in September – must now decide if it’s worth risking staying at the race at all after seeing one of their best athletes test positive for a second time.

After all, they, and all the other World Tour teams, have another Grand Tour to worry about, as the Vuelta a Espana gets under way on Tuesday – so far, say their organisers, under a clean bill of health.

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UK coronavirus LIVE: Londoners wake up to Tier 2 restrictions as scientists ‘predict one million coronavirus tests a day’ by Christmas

Millions of Londoners are waking up to tighter coronavirus restrictions on Saturday after the capital moved into the Government’s “high” risk alert level .

Revellers thronged pubs and bars in Soho on Friday night ahead of the new measures, which came in at midnight and include a ban on any mixing between households indoors.

Other areas placed in Tier 2 restrictions from Saturday include Essex and Elmbridge in Surrey. In Lancashire, many hospitality businesses have been forced to close after the area was moved into the strictest Tier 3 restrictions.

It comes amid predictions, reported in The Times, that Britain will be carrying out one million coronavirus test a day by Christmas in a bid control the pandemic.

Follow our live updates here…

Live Updates

Good morning and welcome to the Evening Standard’s UK coronavirus live blog for Saturday, October 17.

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