Inter-agency group convened to manage emerging infectious disease

PAMPANGA. Mayor Edwin Santiago leads the post conference initiated on February 12, 2020 to discuss necessary actions to contain and prevent the wider transmission of emerging infectious disease including Covid-19. (Contributed photo)

THE City of San Fernando's Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) convened on February 13 at City Health Office (CHO) to establish preparedness and ensure efficient government response to assess, monitor, contain, control, and prevent the spread of emerging infectious diseases (EID), including the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

Eloisa Aquino, CHO head, said the City is taking all necessary directives from the Department of Health (DOH), including its protocols in the surveillance and management of persons under monitoring (PUMs) and patients under investigation (PUIs).

PUMs are persons who have traveled to China or had exposure to those with confirmed Covid-19 but have no signs and symptoms. They are asked to be home quarantined for 14 days.

PUIs are those who have two or all of the following: history of travel from China or had exposure to those with confirmed Covid-19; with respiratory symptoms (cough, colds, etc); and fever. They are to be isolated and quarantined in a hospital and blood specimen and throat swab collected from them and treated symptomatically.

"From the 50 persons under investigation in Central Luzon, 27 have tested negative and the other 23 are still under investigation," Aquino said.

The Department of Health (DOH) has already issued memoranda to schools, workplace, and residence to control the spread of the disease and ensure the safety of everyone.

Meanwhile, Dr. Renely P. Tungol, City Infectious Disease coordinator, recommended necessary efforts in preparation for a wider transmission, including strengthening fever surveillance through the help of Barangay Health Emergency and Response Teams (BHERTs), strict Infection Control Policy, EREID directory with key persons identified, heightened information campaign and systematic EREID referral system.

"We have to report those who are sick, protect ourselves, and practice proper hygiene," Tungol said.

On February 12, the City also conducted a post conference with the national inter-agency task force to talk about the necessary actions and solutions to prevent the spread of the infectious disease.

Through Memorandum Circular 2020-023, San Fernando had also activated its BHERTs consisting of barangay chairperson or punong barangay (PB), an executive officer, a barangay tanod, and two barangay health workers to serve as the "ears and eyes" of the City in determining PUIs.

Rosanna Rosell, nurse epidemiology, along with Jesse Fantone, head of Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (Resu), gave guidelines on the proper management of PUIs, including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure the safety of health workers exposed to PUIs.

Fantone also encouraged the city to report secondary and tertiary hospitals that refuse to admit PUIs in their isolation rooms.

For his part, Mayor Edwin Santiago gave his all-out support to the programs and efforts of his constituents and encouraged them to maintain the flow of communication open for a smooth and strong collaboration.

"This is not the time to point fingers and blame. As the local chief executive, I will exercise my powers to give my support to whatever necessary actions our health experts may need and ensure the safety and security of all Fernandinos," Santiago said.

Also present during the conference were Vice Mayor Jimmy Lazatin and Councilor Nelson Lingat; Dr. Amelito Nicolas, Development Management officer; Marites Quillope, DILG officer; Dr. Eloisa Aquino, City Health officer; and City Health Council members.


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