Remote Workmate regularly searches for notable Philippine news to share. We found that these past days have been relatively eventful with a few more relevant stories than usual.

Here are a few of the top headlines from this fourth week of January 2021.

China’s Sinovac near 650 PHP per dose, gov’t to bare exact amount after purchase

Credit: CNN Philippines

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque revealed around how much the Philippines will spend per dose of the COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech.

Roque said Sinovac’s CoronaVac is priced near 650 PHP per dose or around 1,300 PHP for the complete two doses. He added that the exact amount will be revealed after the Philippines inks the procurement agreement.

A black market for illegal coronavirus vaccines is thriving in the Philippines

Credit: Ezra Acayan/Getty Images via WSJ

While it is illegal to import unauthorised pharmaceuticals in the Philippines, demand among Chinese workers – many of them employed in local online casinos catering to gamblers in China – is driving a black market where vaccine doses are sold for many times the standard 30 USD price in China.

The underground distribution exposes pandemic inequalities and problems with immunization drives in places plagued by corruption and patronage.

Credit: GMA News Online

Pia Cayetano files bill creating “vaccine passports” for Pinoys

A bill seeking to establish a vaccine passport program in the Philippines has been filed by Senator Pia Cayetano ahead of the government’s target COVID-19 vaccine rollout for 50 to 70 million individuals in 2021.

The bill seeks to set up a registry of individuals who had been inoculated, what brand of vaccine and how many doses has been administered, and the vaccination dates, among others.

The name of the health facility where the vaccine was received, as well as the details of the health care worker who administered the vaccine shall also be indicated.

Makati Shangri-La temporarily shutting down, cutting jobs

Credit: Rappler

Luxury hotel Makati Shangri-La – a fixture of the country’s financial district – is temporarily closing its doors and laying off employees, as the coronavirus pandemic has dragged on for almost a year.

The temporary closure begins on February 1.

World body declares PH bird flu-free

Credit: CNN Philippines

The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) has declared that the Philippines is once again free from bird flu, less than a year after its reemergence in the country.

In a statement on January 19, the Department of Agriculture said the OIE declared the country free of the last remaining Avian Influenza strain A(H5N6) as of January 8.

Filipinos poke fun at the size of 5,000 PHP commemorative banknote

Credit: CDN Digital Page

The Central Bank of the Philippines has just revealed a new 5,000 PHP banknote and Filipino netizens are surprised by its size.

They then proceeded to crack jokes about it.

Pandemic task force OKs 5th day coronavirus test for arriving travelers

Credit: Eloisa Lopez, Reuters via ABS-CBN News

The inter-agency task force leading the country’s pandemic response has approved the fifth-day coronavirus testing of travelers arriving in the Philippines, an added precaution against a new, more contagious COVID-19 variant.

Travelers coming from 34 countries covered by travel restrictions against the variant are required to take coronavirus test upon arrival in the country, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

They will be quarantined until they get the result of another coronavirus test that they will take on the fifth day of their stay in the country, Roque added.

Strong earthquake rattles southern Philippines

Credit: Al Jazeera

A magnitude seven earthquake has struck the southern Philippines but there were no immediate reports of damage and a tsunami warning was not issued.

The earthquake hit about 310 kilometres southeast of Davao city on the main southern island of Mindanao at 8:23pm (12:23 GMT), according to the US Geological Survey.