Metro Manila, the national capital region where 12,900,000 live, faces the risk of a dengue epidemic after surpassing the alert level threshold, according to the Department of Health.
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In a report on GMA News TV’s Balitanghali, beamed nationwide, the DOH said it had recorded 11,123 dengue cases in Metro Manila as of Aug. 10, adding 856 of these cases were recorded in just one week, most of them among children aged 5 to 9.
The highest number of cases had been recorded in Quezon City’s Greater Fairview, with 160 cases, including one dying, recorded there as of August 3.
Earlier on, a DOH official urged residents in the congested metropolis and the Ilocos region to be more vigilant in fighting dengue as both areas were close to hitting the “epidemic threshold.”
In a TV interview on Monday, DOH Undersecretary Eric Domingo said the department was closely monitoring the two regions because they were now “above the alert level and nearing the epidemic threshold.”
“Alert level meaning, you’re seeing cases more than the average cases in the past five years and there’s a higher threshold, this is the epidemic, this is way higher than we’re expecting for that area. For the past few months, they were below the alert threshold, but now the cases are going up,” Domingo added.
He said Region 4-A (Calabarzon), Region 4-B (Mimaropa), Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and Regions 5 (Bicol), 6 (Western Visayas), 7 (Central Visayas), 8 (Eastern Visayas), 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula), 10 (Northern Mindanao), and 12 (Soccsksargen), remain in the epidemic threshold.
READ: Dengue epidemic hits 3 more regions
The DOH-Epidemiology Bureau said about 167,606 dengue cases were recorded from Jan. 1 to July 27, 2019.
“These cases equate to a 98 percent increase in January to July 2019 compared to the same period last year. Dengue, as we know, has ups and downs, it usually goes with two years low burden and the third year becomes a high burden, and 2019 is proving to be that,” Domingo said, adding that the same trend is true for other Asian countries like Malaysia and Thailand.
Saying that rain patterns affect the breeding of dengue-carrying mosquitoes, Domingo urged the public to make their surroundings clean and keep their children protected all the time.
“The dengue mosquito does not travel far, but because of the wind factor, they can travel two to three more blocks. That’s why we say if there is clustering in your barangay, say yes to selective fogging because we know that the mosquitoes are concentrated in that certain area,” he said.
On Aug. 6, the DOH launched the Sabayang 4-o’clock Habit to raise awareness and encourage the community to do its share and take time to weed out dengue breeding sites at 4 p.m. every day.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III urged other government agencies, local government units, schools and communities to conduct the “4-o’clock habit para deng-get out!” vector control program to effectively address the national epidemic.
“The pattern of dengue in the Philippines starts in July, and it stays up there until November because even after the rain stops there’s still water for two to three weeks where mosquitoes breed, the cases only go down by December. Awareness is really key,” Domingo said.
Stressing that early diagnosis and treatment improve the survival rate of dengue victims, Domingo reported the DOH has downloaded funds to provide help especially to those in the epidemic areas.
“We also made sure that our resources are prepositioned like the medicines and testing kits in the region, and of course, activated the dengue fast lanes in the hospitals and we’ve opened dedicated hospitals for dengue and referral centers,” he said.
Domingo added increased dengue cases can be expected in September and October, but should decline in November.
With 3,089 dengue cases, Quezon City topped the cities in Metro Manila with the most number of dengue cases.
Quezon City was followed by Manila with 1,062 cases.
The other cities in Metro Manila with the most number of dengue cases are: Caloocan, 942; Parañaque, 828; Malabon, 504; Valenzuela City, 487; Taguig, 463; Pasig, 419; Makati, 417 and Mandaluyong City, 385.
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Records from the DOH Dengue Special Heightened Surveillance Report also showed there were 10,103 dengue cases with 43 deaths from Jan. 1 to July 27, 2019.
Quezon City recorded 25 deaths while Manila had four deaths.
DOH Epidemiology Bureau Director Dr. Chito Avelino said a total of 12,880 dengue cases were reported from July 21 to 27. He said the number was a 70 percent increase compared to the 7,542 cases in the same period last year.
Thirty-nine deaths from dengue were also reported in the same period, which brought to 661 the number of persons who died from dengue from Jan. 1 to July 27.
With the new cases, Avelino said the cumulative number of dengue cases from Jan. 1 to July 27 was 167,607.
Also on Tuesday, the Gabriela women’s rights group opposed the return of Dengvaxia amid a national dengue epidemic.
At a news conference in Quezon City, Joms Salvador, Gabriela secretary-general, rejected the proposal to lift the permanent ban on Dengvaxia vaccine, saying the reuse of anti-dengue vaccine is not the solution to the high incidence of dengue infection cases.
“The Duterte government proposed a lift on the ban even if the vaccine is not yet fully studied,” she said.
“There is not even a single individual who was made accountable over the Dengvaxia issue and the people are not forgetting that,” she added.
Dengvaxia is “not the proper response right now,” she said. “Emergency assistance to patients is.”
She called on the government to provide free and immediate medical assistance to dengue patients.
Gabriela was joined by Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns during the media briefing.
READ: 2 med groups shun vaccines to halt dengue