DOH clarifies: no mutant strain of dengue virus

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 12, 2019   •   1573

The Department of Health (DOH) said there is no mutant strain of dengue virus in the country.

In a statement, the DOH said that there are only four strains of dengue virus in the country.

DENV-1 causes pain behind the eyes while DENV-2 is associated with nose bleeding and blood-streaked vomiting. DENV-3 and DENV-4 cause the symptoms of fever, muscle pains, headaches, loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea.

READ: DOH: Dengue death cases reach 661

DOH Spokesman Usec. Eric Domingo also clarified there are no official statements saying a new strain of dengue virus had caused the surge of dengue cases in the country.

“Neither the DOH official nor the Secretary of Health mentioned a new strain of dengue virus,” he said.

Meanwhile, the DOH assured continuous coordination with local governments to avoid an overflow of dengue patients in hospitals.

The latest number of dengue cases which is now over 157,000 is the highest in the last five years, Domingo added.

“This is one of the highest and it’s the first time that we’ve actually talagang nag-declare tayo ng dengue na national epidemic (declared dengue as a national epidemic). This is the highest in the last 5-6 years,” he said.—AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Healthcare workers involved in selling of blood plasma will face sanctions — DOH

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 11, 2020

Health workers will face sanctions if it is proven that they are involved in the sale of convalescent plasma of COVID-19 survivors, the Department of Health (DOH) warned.

Investigation of the Health Department showed several hospital staff in Cebu City are involved in the illegal trade of blood plasma. The DOH said there are only four facilities authorized to collect plasma from COVID-19 survivors: The Philippine Blood Center, Philippine Red Cross in Port Area, St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig and Quezon City, and UP-PGH in Manila.

Based on the DOH Administrative Order No. 36 Section 46, a medical professional proven to be involved in illegal activities could have his or her license revoked.

“Recommendation to revoke the certificate of registration or to suspend said certificate to practice the profession and to invalidate the professional license of any health professional involved in misrepresentation of facts or falsification of documents or records especially medical, laboratory or inspection results and certificates, or in violation of R.A. No. 7719 and the herein Rules, by the Professional Regulation Commission upon recommendation of the Secretary,” according to the administrative order.

DOH Spokesperson Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire reminds the public that buying plasma from unauthorized individuals is dangerous due to lack of proper screening by health professionals.

“Maraming sakit pa na nata-transmit if we sell our blood lalo na iyon mga hindi na screen (There are a lot of diseases that can be transmitted if we sell our blood, especially when it is not screened),” she said. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

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DOH reminds licensed laboratories to submit complete COVID-19 data

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 11, 2020

The Department of Health (DOH) has reminded licensed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) laboratories to submit their data on the deadly virus.

Based on the report of the DOH, out of 100 licensed laboratories in the country, only 70% have submitted the requirements for COVID-19 data on time.

DOH Spokesperson Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire said they are looking into the possible consequences for COVID-19 laboratories that are not compliant with the data protocols.

“If they are not compliant there would be some form of warnings and maybe suspension pinag-aaralan naming maigi,” she said.

Vergeire explained that the Health Department and COVID-19 laboratories have data reconciliation every week to ensure there will be no duplicates in the total number of coronavirus disease cases in the country.

The report also states that there are 3,177 backlogs in COVID-19 laboratories that are up for validation. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

PH may possibly ‘flatten the curve’ if MECQ extends for two more weeks – Experts

Marje Pelayo   •   August 10, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) believes that the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) needs to be extended for two more weeks for the government to assess its effectiveness in containing the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) transmission.

According to DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, it is still early to conclude if quarantine restrictions could be lifted or extended in areas under MECQ as they have many factors to consider before they can decide on what could happen after the two-week MECQ. 

“Hindi natin masasabi pa sa ngayon kung ano na talaga ang nangyayari [We cannot tell what will happen as of yet],” Vergeire said.

“We will see the effect maybe three weeks to one month kasi may 14 days incubation period. May nadagdag ba? Nakahinga ba ang ating health system dito sa two weeks na nakapag- recalibrate tayo [We will see the effect maybe three weeks to one month given the 14-days incubation period. Did the number increase? Was our health system able to breathe in these two weeks that we were able to recalibrate]?” she added. 

Vergeire said, for now, they cannot really tell if the National Capital Region (NCR) can be reverted to general community quarantine (GCQ).

Meanwhile, experts are still studying the rate of COVID-19 cases in the country and the current capacity of hospitals. 

Usec. Vergeire also noted the importance of active participation of local government units (LGU) to curb the spread of COVID-19 in communities, especially in clustered barangays in the NCR.

“Hirap pa tayo magbigay sa ngayon [We cannot conclude yet at the moment]. It is not just the cases that we are looking for during assessment. Tingnan din natin capacity ng health system [We should also look at the capacity of our health system],” Vergeire noted.

The UP OCTA Research group, on the other hand, said their case projection has slowed down because of the government-imposed MECQ. 

From 200,000, their case projection lowered to about 170,000 to 190,000 cases.

According to Dr. Guido David, the COVID-19 R-Naught or rate of transmission has dropped since the implementation of MECQ when most of the people are confined in their homes.

The group believes that if the MECQ is further extended, the Philippines might achieve the flattening of the curve. 

“It’s very possible even by end of August pwede nang ma- flatten ang curve, pero [the curve can be flattened but] like I said, flattening of the curve at the end hindi ibig sabihin katapusan na ito [doesn’t mean it’s over],” David said.

Hopefully, kapag nag- flatten ang curve maybe we can already sustain it kapag nag- GCQ na tayo [Hopefully, when the curve is finally flattened, we can already sustain it once we shift to GCQ],” he added.

Dr. David noted that although the community quarantine has been an enormous help in containing the virus, the most important still is the overall effort and collaboration of the public and those who enforce the minimum health protocols, especially the wearing of face masks. 

The DOH, meanwhile, advised the public particularly those with elderly family members and immunocompromised individuals to always wear masks even inside the house and maintain social distancing to curb COVID-19 transmission. –MNP (with details from Aiko Miguel)

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