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  1. Wasn't that the story line of a Doctor Who episode? If your friend has one of these blue boxes in his house, maybe we are being too skeptical!
  2. Those are the numbers the government reported, so no, there probably won’t be any better or different numbers released by the Philippines. Most Covid statistics routinely issued by the Philippines (and by many other countries) must to be evaluated by giving consideration given to local reporting irregularities/protocols, political PR desires and general (or lack of) government efficiencies. Viewed in that context, most numbers reported in the Philippines have questionable value for other than spotting trends, and the numbers certainly cannot be equally compared to other countries. But MikeJ, I think you knew that and was just yanking our chain a little! Just for fun, here are my lowly thoughts on some Philippine Covid stats: The daily “New Cases” numbers have low value without knowing the number of people tested and their demographics. At many times during this pandemic there were great variances in the numbers of people tested and in different geographic areas; both those factors directly effected the published ‘case numbers’ and as result, also skewed the published positivity rate. But assuming there are sometimes periods of consistent testing, then the positive case count has some value when viewed over long periods of time. The only value in showing a number for “Recovered” (other than complying with the govt’s “request” for the media to show it) is to remind the public of the very true fact that the vast majority of people who test positive will survive. The same is true with the govt’s endorsement of showing a comparison between Philippine Covid numbers and select other countries of different sizes and reporting methods (India, US, Indonesia). Of course, the chart always results in making the Ph numbers (not %) look better. I like to follow the hospital utilization rates as those are important for some of us old guys trying to get back over there. It also gives a good indication of actual Covid conditions. Even these have to be considered in the context in which they exist. Recall that at several times in this long pandemic the government mandated hospitals to increase ICU and Covid beds. Since then, some major facilities expanded their ICU capacity by over 250%, others created outside wards or repurposed other wards and common areas. While the government and DOH like to cite the percentage of “available beds” as a positive indication of how well they are coping, we know that a 50% occupancy rate now means there are many more patients then what would have been a 50% occupancy a year ago. Of course, we all know that having more beds available does not mean they also have more staff to adequately care for the patients in those beds. Some on this forum have had direct experience with that problem! I could go on and on but the point I am poorly making is that we should never take a published Covid statistic or comparison at face value. Not all numbers are arrived at equally and reliably.
  3. KenM- As always, you are getting some good advice here from very observant people who understand what being in the Philippines is all about and whose opinions may be from a different viewpoint then your Filipino friends in California. Entry to the Philippines is in constant flux and can change while you are in the air. Many of us are stuck outside and increasing hospitalizations are an indication that we will be out for some more months. But if planning an affluent lifestyle (by local standards) and able to afford whatever travel glitches and special services may be required, it certainly is just a matter of the right paperwork, right timing and then let the adventure begin! Yet, I know many pet owners consider their dog to be family (I have a “grand-dog”) and would not intentionally put them at more risk then absolutely necessary. Bringing a pet to the Philippines will always involve a little risk, yet most attempts seem to be successful with only minor hiccups. However, bringing a pet during Covid & mandatory isolation does elevate the chances of a snafu, possibly subjecting your 'family member' to additional risks that may be avoided by waiting for the situation to stabilize. Even if you find a hotel on the approved list, you call them and they agree to walk your dog for you, don’t be surprised if it does not happen when you get here. Phone/email promises evaporate faster than my cash around my in-laws. Perhaps Mike J’s suggestion of a service is worth considering, assuming that they can reliably operate during the constantly changing Covid restrictions. Rules change here continually and inconsistency is more the norm than the exception. This is not the kind of country where you can just ask to speak the a supervisor after getting a decision you don’t like and then have your issue resolved. Good luck, and keep pushing on the visa paperwork!
  4. This is funny! So is this. You guys sure keep me laughing!
  5. This is going to be a story that never stops giving: Rains bring trash, water hyacinths to Manila Bay 'dolomite' beach Due to incessant rains brought by enhanced southwest monsoon, trash and water hyacinths were washed ashore in Manila Bay's "white sand" area or "dolomite" beach, according to Jonathan Andal's report on Unang Balita on Thursday. Residents said the trash probably came from the Pasig River and provinces surrounding Manila Bay. The mess will be cleaned up by marshals within the day, the report said. A 500-meter stretch of coastline near the US Embassy in Manila has been filled with sand made from tons of crushed dolomite boulders from the Visayas. The use of artificial sand has been met with criticism, with environmental groups saying the facelift focuses only on aesthetics and has little to do with rehabilitation. —KBK, GMA News https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/metro/796294/rains-bring-trash-water-hyacinths-to-manila-bay-dolomite-beach/story/ There are Twitter pictures in the article, but I couldn't get them to post here.
  6. Yet, every newspaper editorial I've seen is telling the DOE to stop whining and to fix the education system. Not a lot of sympathy for claiming the 2018 & 2019 studies were "old data". I doubt any study after a year of Covid remote learning would improve the country's score.
  7. Mike J- It was not this chart, but this has some good information on the pending vaccines. The other chart included one more column showing actual usage v. distributed, and more detail on the cost/method of acquisition. It has always been hard to find in-depth numbers here. No doubt some agencies prefer we just listen to their publicly-stated opinions of how well they are doing. There is another chart on Rappler that breaks down the source of doses received as of June 28. I've linked it because I'm not techy enough to separate out just the interactive chart!
  8. I'd say you are right. I saw a great chart last week but now I can't find it of all the vaccines received in country, detailing the source and the # of doses distributed. I was surprised to see that China was not as generous as some 'officials' seem to imply. 11 Million doses delivered of Sinovac - 1 million donated by China while 10 million doses were purchased. Not really on point but for comparison, over 5 million doses of AstraZeneca and Pfizer have been received, all donated through the WHO/Covax cooporative.
  9. If anyone is bored and want to see an hour long demonstration of Senator Pacquio’s “mental agility”, check out this 25 May 2021 Senate session -- discussion starts at about 3:15:00. He was trying to defend his bill to create a Boxing & Combat Sport Commission, but was no match for Sen. Pia Cayetano & others.
  10. Tommy- Only if you wish, tell us one of your favorite stories of him. Anyone who has read your posts for years knows your wife is a person of exceptional character and abilities. Perhaps some of these traits came from her father and will continue to live on with her. Thank you for the reminder that these endless numbers we hear (regardless of the cause) are actually real people.
  11. Jack- The embassies stopped accepting and processing N-600K’s in 2019. Not enough facts given here to be sure the child is eligible, but if you think so, the form can now be filed electronically on the USCIS website https://www.uscis.gov/n-600k if you do not want to mail it.
  12. No, I think that was a great summary! On the money issue, I also remember early on hearing that money was set aside for the vaccine, but it was a very low figure. Maybe part of that paid the US$80 Million to be part of the COVAX group plan for lower income countries. For the other vaccines, the last I recall was the government was paying for the other deals with about $2 Billion in loans. I like your phrase "paperwork errors". Very diplomatic!
  13. I agree with your optimism that it will be offered to everyone. From watching the congressional hearings and pressers, rollout is going to be a huge hodgepodge of methods, providers, facilitators and suppliers, with a handful of authorized corporate line-jumpers. There will be tons of glitches for a few months, just as there is in much of the US or in any country without a strong central government or national healthcare system. There has been talk of various registry systems, or tying to incorporate a national ID into the mix, but no plan seems to have gotten much traction. With all the varied distribution paths being planned, I'm betting that all foreigners in the Ph will eventually have access to the vaccine, but they may just have to be more proactive in searching it out, tracking down and being in the right place at the right time!
  14. Very tempting for some, but it depends on each person’s individual situation. I had this discussion last week with a (senior) friend of mine, so now he is leaving Manila Thursday and hopes to return to Philippines in April after his two jabs. Here are some of the factors we discussed for anyone that may be interested. Of course, this was for the United States - many different issues if returning to some other countries: Vaccine Availability? There is no good timeline for getting vaccinated in Ph. Even if foreigners are treated the same as citizens, my best guess is that even seniors won’t see widespread vaccinations until 2020 Q3 at the very earliest, and it is more likely going to be 2021 Q4. In the states, depending on the jurisdiction, over 65s are are getting shots now. Quality of Vaccine: Only Pfizer and Moderna available in the US for now. Those are the top choices for me and many people (I know, not everyone!). Vaccine Administration: If using Moderna or Pfizer, some people may have higher confidence that safety/temperature protocols have been more strictly followed in the US then in some other countries. Travel to US: Reasonable restrictions and fares. US requires a negative test result from a test taken within three calendar days prior to departure (if nonstop flight). A second test and 10 day quarantine is “suggested” after entry. Functionally, this time is used to schedule a vaccination appointment (no less then 15 days after arrival). Timing: Second vaccine jab 3 or 4 weeks after the first, meaning you will have to be in the US for at least 6 weeks if there was no delay in getting an appointment. Returning to Ph: That’s the wild card. We know the entry rules now, but who can predict the future? An open risk. Downside? Cost. Months away from home. Risk of rule changes delaying return to Philippines. Potential Benefit? No guarantees, but if all goes anywhere close to as planned, will be vaccinated much sooner then if had stayed, with a vaccine he preferred, and with the peace of mind knowing that he now has greatly reduced the chances of becoming severely ill if he contracts Covid-19. Again, it is all dependent on personal circumstances and needs.
  15. Dave- What an odyssey! How did you convince the Alaska desk agent? I hear stories all the time of airline check in agents taking so long to confirm travel eligibility that the traveler eventually misses the flight.
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