More possible cases of polio being monitored in PH – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   November 22, 2019   •   577

A Filipino baby receives a polio vaccine inside a government-run health center in Manila, Philippines, 08 October 2019 (issued 11 October 2019). EPA-EFE/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) said it is monitoring more possible cases of polio in the country following recent cases of children who tested positive for poliovirus in Mindanao.

The DOH said there are still other cases awaiting confirmation from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said they recorded more cases in the past months because the agency is actively conducting surveillance of suspected polio cases.

On Wednesday, Nov. 21, the DOH confirmed three new cases of polio in children under five years old from Mindanao, bringing to seven the total number of polio cases in the country this year.

In September, the department confirmed the re-emergence of the disease in the Philippines 19 years after it was declared polio-free by the World Health Organization.

The DOH said it is set to begin a new round of synchronized oral polio vaccine campaign for the whole of Mindanao, as well as in the National Capital Region (NCR) from Nov. 25 to Dec. 7 this year.

A polio immunization campaign will also be conducted in Mindanao from Jan. 6 to 18, 2020.

The department said the campaign’s “Patak Polio Corners” will be set up in selected McDonald’s stores in Metro Manila and in Mindanao after IT forged a partnership on Thursday, Nov. 21.

“We are relentless in making this health service accessible and available to all, consistent with our goal of Universal Health Care,” Duque said in a separate statement.

The Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio campaign aims to vaccinate all children below 5 years old regardless of Polio vaccination status, the DOH added.

According to the agency, the initial round of the synchronized polio vaccination reported 96% coverage among children 0 to 59 months old from the 17 cities/municipality in NCR.

Davao del Sur recorded 92% coverage from its 10 cities/municipalities while Lanao del Sur reported 85% coverage from 40 cities/municipalities.  

DOH to include PUV drivers in expanded COVID-19 testing

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 15, 2020

The Department of Health (DOH) will include additional groups in its expanded testing for coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Aside from the elderly, frontliners, and the immunocompromised, the expanded testing will also cover the PUV drivers, operators, and employees of manufacturing companies.

The DOH said there will be four subgroups for the expanded testing. Subgroup G includes residents in areas with active COVID-19 transmission. Subgroup H will be frontliners in tourist zones while Subgroup I are for employees of manufacturing companies and public service providers.

Subgroup J covers economy workers including PUV drivers, conductors, pilots, waiters, restaurant managers, cashiers, bank tellers, teachers, and security guards.

The Health Department aims to release the updated testing guidelines by next week. DOH Spokesperson Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire said the additional groups show the increasing testing capacity of the country.

“Alam natin na gusto na natin unti-unting buksan ang ating ekonomiya (We all know that we want to slowly open our economy) and this is part of how we will be opening our economy,” she said.

Vergeire, meanwhile, advised individuals who were exposed to COVID-19 positive patients to undergo isolation while waiting for their own test result.

“Even if the results are not out, they have to comply with the quarantine procedure of having to be isolated for 14 days,” she said. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Duque: We successfully flattened the curve since April

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 15, 2020

The Philippines has successfully flattened the curve since April, according to the Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III.

The Health Secretary said the number of new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases stabilized from 210 to 220 per day.

“So over time we have been able to stabilize the number of new cases being reported anywhere 210-220 per day. This is the clarification I would like to make,” he said.

Duque said the doubling time of cases and mortality also slowed down. He explained the doubling time went down from around two days to eight days.

“I mentioned that on basis of case doubling time that has actually become longer beyond 7 days, anywhere from 8-12 days. This is an improvement from the initial phase of the outbreak, where case doubling time is about 2.5 days,” according to Duque.

However, former special adviser to the COVID-19 National Task Force (NTF) Dr. Anthony Leachon said the DOH should review their data.

As of July 14, the DOH reported 634 new cases, increasing the total number of cases to 57,545. The Philippines also previously recorded the highest number of COVID-19 cases in a day with 2,434 tallied last July 5.

“I don’t think we have flattened the curve based on our increase in cases, number of deaths, and full critical care capacity of NCR and Cebu hospitals,” he said in a tweet.

Senator Miguel Zubiri also slammed Duque for his remark and said daily cases increased to over a thousand and the Philippines is soon becoming number one is Southeast Asia in terms of COVID-19 cases.

“The only thing that is flat are the backs of all the poor patients in fully occupied COVID-19 wards all around Metro Manila fighting for their lives,” he said.

Meanwhile, in a message, Duque said COVID-19 cases in April declined after implementing Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ). He also added that COVID-19 cases increased due to the expanded COVID-19 testing. —AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

DOH asks hospitals to increase bed capacity to accommodate more COVID-19 patients

Marje Pelayo   •   July 14, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) is asking hospitals across the country to increase their bed capacity to accommodate more coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients.

This is because most major hospitals in Metro Manila are already in the danger zone or nearing full capacity due to the surge of COVID-19 cases. 

Administrative Order No.2020-0016 states that hospitals must allot 30% bed capacity for COVID-19 cases; but currently, public hospitals are utilizing 20% bed capacity while 9% in private hospitals.

Commitment po ng mga private hospitals po na maglaan ng 20 percent ng kanilang total functional bed capacity for COVID. Nakiusap ako na kung pwedeng kung kailangan ay dagdagan pa ng 10 percent para maging 30 percent,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said. 

[It is the commitment of private hospitals to allot 20 percent of their total functional bed capacity for COVID. I asked them, if possible, to increase their capacity by 10 percent to make it 30 percent.]

Samantala ang atin pong mga pampublikong mga hospital ay atin pong pinakiusap ay yung 30 percent naman nila na allocated for COVID ay kinakailangan up to 50 percent ng kanilang bed capacity,” he added.

[Meanwhile, our private hospitals were also asked to increase bed capacity from 30 percent and make it 50 percent for COVID patients.]

At present, four major hospitals in Metro Manila have declared full capacity and can no longer accept COVID-19 patients. 

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) expressed concern over the Philippines’ problems with bed capacity for COVID-19 cases. 

WHO Active Country Rep. Dr. Rabindra Abesayinghe recommends that only the severe and critical cases who needed critical care in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) be accepted to address the matter. 

“Other measures that need to be done and the government is practicing now is encouraging the management of mild cases or asymptomatic positives in so called isolation centers, rather than admitting them to hospitals,” he said. 

“Because mild or asymptomatic people don’t require the facilities available in a hospital to manage them,” he added. MNP (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

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