DOH sends medicines, eye drops, other supplies to areas badly-hit by Taal eruption

Robie de Guzman   •   January 14, 2020   •   1197

Volunteers provide free medical examinations inside an evacuation center in Santo Tomas, Batangas, Philippines, 14 January 2020. Volunteers provide free medical examinations inside an evacuation center in Santo Tomas, Batangas, Philippines, 14 January 2020.

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday said it has ramped up its support and augmented resources in response to the ongoing eruption of Taal Volcano.

In a statement, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said they have sent medicines, including eye drops and asthma medication, and other supplies such as face masks and water purification tablets, to areas that were heavily affected by the ashfall brought about by the volcanic eruption.

“We have sent drugs, medicines such as eye drops and asthma medication, medical supplies including N95 and surgical face masks, collapsible water containers and jerry cans, water purification tablets, and hygiene kits to CALABARZON and the National Capital Region (NCR),” Duque said.

He added that the additional logistical support is expected to be delivered today.

Duque said they have also deployed personnel to 139 evacuation centers and will continue to conduct Rapid Health Assessment in different affected municipalities in the region.

The DOH has raised Code White Alert in light of Taal volcano’s explosive eruption to maintain continuous coordination with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), and DOH centers for health development in Calabarzon and Metro Manila.

Meanwhile, the DOH Center for Health Development Region 4A, including all its hospitals, was placed on Code Blue Alert.

The department also activated its Health Response Cluster, conducted disease surveillance, and procured N95 masks and medicines for respiratory ailments.

Under code white alert, all hospital personnel are placed on standby for deployment while code blue alert means that half of all hospital personnel are required to report for duty to provide medical assistance and services.

“We advise people with asthma to wear the N95 mask, while those not suffering from respiratory ailments may use dust or surgical masks,” Duque said.

“Those who experience eye irritations or difficulty in breathing should seek immediate consultation at the nearest health facility for proper treatment,” he added.

The health official likewise assured that the government is continuously monitoring the developments of the eruption in the Taal region and will respond to the health needs of the people.

DOH allows private companies to implement lockdown

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 29, 2020

The Department of Health (DOH) will allow private companies to implement lockdown in their offices or health care facilities to prevent coronavirus disease (COVID-19) exposure.

DOH Spokesperson Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire said aside from the minimum health protocols, private companies should also consider the mental health of their employees if they will implement a lockdown.

For example may mga ibang ospital (For example, there are hospitals) that would rather have their employees stay with them, they have their dormitory. Wala munang uuwi dito muna kasi kapag umuwi kayo sa community you go back at nadadala niyo ang mga impeksyon dito (No one will go home yet because, once you go home to your community and you come back, you might bring the infection here), she said.

According to the Health Department, the duration of the lockdown will depend on the agreement between the company and its employees. She also reminded employees that they can also decline being put into lockdown.

Hindi naman dapat pumayag din ang isang employee kung iyan ay labag sa kaniya. Mayroon naman silang ganoong karapatan kailangan lang po na naipapaliwang ng maayos (Employees don’t need to agree if they don’t want to. They have the right to do so. Things must be explained properly),Vergeire added.

The health official also reminded private companies to make sure that their employees understand the reason behind the lockdown, taking into account the difficulty of being away from their families especially during the pandemic.

Vergeire also said employees should also be able to talk to experts with regards to their mental health.

“It is okay not to be okay especially at this time during our situation in the pandemic. Okay lang po iyan lahat tayo nakakaramdam ng ganiyan (That’s okay, we all feel that). We just have to have that coping mechanism,” she said. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

From danger zone to moderate, DOH sees downward trend of COVID-19 cases

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 28, 2020

The number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases in the country is now at a downward trend, according to the Department of Health (DOH).

DOH Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said that, for the past six days, the number of new COVID-19 cases that they have been recording has been under 3,000.

We look at the trends noong ating mga averages per week. Makikita natin bumababa, nakikita natin bumababa tayo ng around 1,000 to 1,200 cases na comparing to the previous (We look at the trends in our average record per week. We see a decline in number around 1,000 to 1,200 cases compared to the previous records), she said.

This is also an indication that COVID-19 transmission in the country, especially in the National Capital Region (NCR), has dropped from the danger zone to moderate. From the 81% Critical Care Utilization Rate in the NCR last August, it went down to 60%.

The Critical Care Utilization Rate refers to the availability of ICU beds in COVID-19 wards, ventilator facilities, and other hospital needs for COVID-19 patients.

Health Undersecretary and Treatment Czar Dr. Leopoldo Vega said the decrease in the number of cases can help in recalibrating the strategies and responses of local government units in addressing the pandemic. This includes a boost in contract tracing and isolation of COVID-19 patients.

Ang malaking bahagi talaga sa pagsugpo ng COVID-19 ay iyong public health measure. At nakikita mo naman lalo na sa Metro Manila na kapag ang LGU ay aggressive sa testing, isolation at tracing ng mga positive sa COVID-19 ay malaki ng pagbabago (The huge part in fighting COVID-19 is public health measure. As you can see, especially in Metro Manila, if an LGU is aggressive in testing, isolation and tracing of COVID-19 positive it makes a huge difference),he said.

However, the DOH official said there are still areas where COVID-19 cases remain high and that the public should stay vigilant in abiding by the health and safety protocols.

Vergeire also said that despite the decline, the department still does not recommend to ease the quarantine restrictions in the country.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases should also consider other indicators such as the attack and growth curve before submitting their recommendation. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

DOH proposes COVID-19 swab test ‘price cap’

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 21, 2020

The Department of Health on Monday (September 21) said it has submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte its recommendation for an executive order issuance that would place a price cap on coronavirus disease (COVID-19) swab tests.

DOH Spokesperson Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire said the department has noticed the differential pricing of swab tests in laboratories across the country. She added that the current law on price ceiling for medicines excludes diagnostics and professional fees.

“We may be able to have this executive order so that we can somehow regulate the prices of swabs, or prices of testing for COVID-19,” she said.

The DOH official also said the department will conduct small surveys to determine price range and will consult experts and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) regarding the swab test prices. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

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