(UPDATED) - The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday, August 6, declared a national dengue epidemic as cases continued to increase.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III made the declaration in a joint press conference at Camp Aguinaldo Tuesday with officials of the Department of National Defense and the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
From January 1 to July 20, 2019, Duque said there have been a total of 146,062 dengue cases, including 622 deaths. This was almost double the cases recorded in the same period in 2018.
The DOH said the Western Visayas topped the list with 23,330 cases followed by Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) with 16,515 cases, Zamboanga Peninsula with 12,317, Northern Mindanao with 11,455 and Soccsksargen with 11,083.
"It is important that a national epidemic be declared in these areas to identify where a localized response is needed and to enable the local government units to use their quick response fund to address the epidemic situation," Duque said.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who also chairs the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), said he already issued a memorandum order enjoining all NDRRMC member agencies to support the national dengue epidemic response to eliminate the viral disease.
“Hindi pa tayo mag-declare ng state of calamity, kasi hindi naman nationwide pare-pareho may mga areas na marami ang recorded cases may area na maliliit. Ngayon it is up to the provinces to declare state of calamity katulad ng Iloilo Province and Iloilo City, (which are) most affected, and Cavite also,” he said.
(We won't declare a state of calamity yet because there are areas with only a few cases. It's up to the local governments to declare a state of calamity like Iloilo province, Iloilo City and Cavite.)
The government earlier raised the national dengue alert. That same week, more than 10,000 dengue cases were recorded nationwide.
Based on the data released by the DOH, a total of 10,502 dengue cases were reported from July 14 to 20. Thirty-nine patients died.
"This is 71 percent higher compared to the same period in 2018 with 6,128," a DOH statement said.
The DOH declared the national dengue alert on July 15 due to the rapidly increasing number of cases observed in several regions.
Western Visayas had the most recorded cases during the said week with 2,990; followed by Calabarzon with 1,598; Eastern Visayas with 1,058; and Northern Mindanao with 1,056.
These regions exceeded their epidemic threshold, according to the DOH.
Regions that exceeded their alert threshold are Ilocos Region (528), Central Visayas (312), and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (107).
The epidemic and alert thresholds for dengue vary per region, as these depend on the computations that take into account the number of cases reported within the region in the last three to five years.
Other regions and the number of dengue cases in the same week are: Cagayan Valley (193), Central Luzon (96), Mimaropa (153), Bicol Region (381), Zamboanga Peninsula (851), Davao (235), Soccsksargen (231), Cordillera (18), Caraga (125) and National Capital Region (440).
Duque said that together with the other government agencies, local government units, and schools, they will conduct the “4-o’clock habit para Deng-get out” vector control program which aims to search and destroy mosquito breeding sites.
He reiterated the four tips (4S) to prevent dengue which is to search and destroy mosquito breeding sites, self-protective measures, seek early consultation and say yes to selective fogging.
Among the symptoms of dengue are fever of over two days, severe joint and muscle pain, fatigue, nausea, skin rashes, and bleeding. (With HDT/SunStar Philippines)