DOH probing emerging cases of diphtheria, other infectious diseases in PH

Robie de Guzman   •   September 25, 2019   •   745

MANILA, Philippines – Apart from polio, cases of other infectious diseases such as diphtheria have also emerged in some parts of the country, the Department of Health (DOH) said.

In a statement issued on Wednesday (Sept. 25), the DOH reported that its Epidemiology Bureau recorded 167 cases with 40 deaths from January to September this year.

This is higher compared to 122 cases and 30 deaths recorded in the same period in 2018.

“The reasons for the trend are being investigated,” the DOH said.

It, however, clarified that the number of cases is not yet considered alarming.

Diphtheria is a bacterial infection affecting the nose and throat. An infected person would develop a thick covering called pseudomembrane formation in the back of their throat, causing a person’s airways to be blocked and experience difficulty in breathing.

This disease can be transmitted by droplets spread through sneezing, coughing and close contact to an infected person.

Health officials said immunization remains as the most effective prevention for the disease.

Parents are encouraged to have their infants completely immunized with three doses of DPT at ages 6 weeks old, 10 weeks old and 14 weeks old to counter diphtheria.

The DOH said the anti-toxin for diphtheria is available in the country, through the assistance of the World Health Organization.

Antibiotics for diphtheria, namely penicillin, erythromycin, clarithromycin, and azithromycin, are also locally and commercially available.

Aside from diphtheria, the DOH also urged parents and caregivers to protect children from other vaccine-preventable diseases, such as pertussis (whooping cough) and tetanus, through immunization.

“Now more than ever, the importance of protecting our infants and children from vaccine-preventable diseases remains paramount,” it said.

The DOH also calls in local government units and health professionals to work together to ensure that every child will receive vaccines on time to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and increase the country’s immunization coverage.

Man in Tacloban City quarantined for novel coronavirus infection

Marje Pelayo   •   January 24, 2020

Philippine Marines rush to shore during an amphibious landing exercise with United States counterparts on a beach on the coast of the Naval Education and Training Command in Zambales Province, northwest of Manila, Philippines, 09 May 2018. The Philippines-US Balikatan (Shoulder to Shoulder) Military Exercise is on its 34th iteration, which is aimed to enhance interoperability between security forces of the two countries. EPA-EFE/ROLEX DELA PENA

MANILA, Philippines – A 36-year-old male patient in Tacloban City is now under observation for potential signs of novel coronavirus, the Department of Health (DOH) revealed Friday (January 24).

The patient, who traveled from Wuhan, China, showed symptoms of nCov upon his arrival in the Philippines on January 17.

Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo, however, clarified that it is still too early to conclude that the man is infected with novel coronavirus.

The DOH is keeping a list of all individuals from China who sought medical tests relative to the outbreak of novel coronavirus.

Among them is a two-year-old toddler from Aklan.

The DOH clarified, however, that the toddler showed symptoms not worse than an ordinary flu.

Meanwhile, the DOH said they are expecting the release of the confirmatory test on the patients’ blood samples by next week.

The samples are now being tested at the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory in Melbourne, Australia, including that of the 6-year-old Chinese boy in Cebu who was first to be observed for nCoV infection.

At present, the World Health Organization (WHO) is not yet considering the situation a global health emergency.

Also, the Philippines is still technically free of novel coronavirus pending the confirmatory tests from Australia.

Nonetheless, Health offices across the country remain on alert against possible entry of the nCoV given the Philippines’ proximity to China.

Authorities are warning the public to refrain from travelling to China and always wear masks especially airport personnel as they are the first to have contact with arriving passengers from other countries. MNP (with details from Aiko Miguel)

Still no confirmed case of novel coronavirus yet in PH – DOH

Marje Pelayo   •   January 23, 2020

Passengers wearing face masks who arrived from Guangzhou, China prepare to exit the airport at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, Philippines, 22 January 2020. According to media reports, at least nine people have died and more than 400 people are confirmed infected by a new respiratory virus which was first detected in Wuhan, China. The virus, called the coronavirus, can be passed between humans and has spread to the USA, Thailand, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. EPA-EFE/MARK R. CRISTINO

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) has yet to receive results of the test on a Chinese boy’s blood samples sent to Australia after he was confined for symptoms of the new strain of coronavirus that has killed at least 17 people in China.

Meantime, the DOH stressed that there is no positive case of the so-called 2019 novel coronavirus yet in the Philippines.

Until now wala pa tayong confirmatory test (We don’t have confirmatory test until now),” said DOH Spokesperson Eric Domingo.

“The patient is still admitted and has recovered. The patient is having some mild cough but no fever and so far the patient is doing well. But we are not discharging the child,” he said of the Chinese boy.

His family, who arrived in Manila from Hong Kong, also does not show any symptoms of the viral infection.

Wala silang sakit so wala namang (They are not sick so there is no) need for us to do any tests on them or to admit them or to hold them in isolation,” Domingo explained.

“The advice really is for them to continue keeping in touch with us and then we will be monitoring them,” he added.

Meanwhile, the flight attendant who offered herself to self-quarantine after experiencing flu-like symptoms upon arriving from Wuhan, China also tested negative of coronavirus.

According to the DOH, the recent cancellation of flights from Wuhan, China and the order to place the entire city on lockdown is helpful to secure the country from a potential entry of the virus.

Meanwhile, the DOH expressed support should the World Health Organization (WHO) declares global health emergency to curb the spread of the unknown virus.

Domingo also assured that the Department will remain on the frontline in case management and disease control in the Philippines should the international health body declares the outbreak of 2019-nCov a global pandemic.

“We have the infrastructure and we have the system ready. It’s really just a matter of activating it, ever since SARS we already have quick response system in place,” the official explained.

In this case nagkakaroon lang din ng kaunting modification kasi (In this case we are doing some modifications because) from SARS to MERS- COV to the novel Coronavirus for 2019, they are not exactly all the same not even clinically like this one is apparently less infectious,” he added.

Amid the novel coronavirus scare, the DOH reiterates its appeal to the public to always monitor updates from authorized agencies such as the DOH and WHO, especially when it comes to declarations on the still unknown strain of coronavirus so as not to cause panic given that unverified information is easily spread on social media nowadays. MNP (with details from Aiko Miguel)

PH Gov’t urged to take precautionary measures vs threat of new coronavirus strain

Robie de Guzman   •   January 22, 2020

Passengers wearing face masks who arrived from Guangzhou, China lineup for immigration at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, Philippines, 22 January 2020. EPA-EFE/MARK R. CRISTINO

MANILA, Philippines – Several lawmakers on Wednesday urged the Philippine government to take precautionary measures and prepare emergency response plans amid the threat of a new strain of coronavirus from China.

In a statement, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian called on the Department of Education (DepEd) to put schools on alert and ensure that preventive steps are in place to protect students from the respiratory disease that has already infected 222 individuals across neighboring countries of China, Japan, South Korea, and Thailand.

“Sa ating pangambang makapasok itong bagong coronavirus sa ating bansa, mabuti nang maging sigurado tayo dahil ang isang kumpirmadong kaso ay maaaring maikalat sa iba,” Gatchalian said.

He made the appeal after the Department of Health (DOH) reported Tuesday it is closely monitoring a child who may have contracted novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) prior to entering the Philippines from Wuhan, China.

The DOH said the child manifested symptoms such as cough, throat irritation, and fever. He is currently stable but still has a cough.

Based on samples examined by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), the unnamed child tested negative for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Both diseases are caused by a family of viruses called coronavirus.

But he tested positive for a non-specific pancoronavirus assay, meaning he is infected with a strain of coronavirus. The sample has been sent to a laboratory in Australia for further testing.

The new strain of coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan City on December 31, 2019.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said novel coronavirus causes respiratory infections which may develop into severe cases such as pneumonia, acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and death if left untreated.

Coronavirus, which is a large group of viruses common among animals, may be transmitted to humans through contact with an infected person or animal.

Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate committee on basic education, arts, and culture also said that schools should have protocols in identifying students displaying flu-like symptoms and emphasize the practice of good hygiene, such as frequent hand-washing, to avoid any diseases.

Senator Nancy Binay, meanwhile, called on the DOH and other government agencies to prepare for an emergency response plan in dealing with the respiratory illness from China.

Binay said she filed Senate Resolution 293 which aims to determine appropriate measures and necessary funding requirements to ensure quick government response to address possible outbreaks.

“Preemptive measures will always the better option. Kailangan natin paghandaan na dahil actionable ang impormasyong hawak ng DOH. We must act immediately to monitor reports of the disease or sightings, and abate the possibility of an outbreak,” she said in a statement.

“Mabuting maging handa, hindi lamang ang DOH at ang pambansang pamahalaan, kundi pati na rin ang mga local na pamahalaan hanggang sa lebel ng barangay,” she added.

The DOH earlier advised the public to always practice frequent handwashing, avoid crowded places and contact with an infected person, and to thoroughly cook food, especially those containing meat and dairy products.   

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