THE Department of Health is on heightened watche as it warned the public on outbreaks of waterborne and foodborne illnesses, influenza-like illnesses, leptospirosis and dengue (W.I.L.D.) in the aftermath of recent typhoons.
At the same time Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque II said that with Typhoons Rolly and Ulysses causing widespread flooding and destruction that prompted evacuation in several parts of Luzon, they are reiterating the call for precautionary measures against spread of COVID-19 among the displaced population.
Recognizing the health hazards present in the typhoon-stricken areas, the DOH has alerted its Centers for Health Development to continuously monitor the possible spread of W.I.L.D. diseases, together with concerned Local Government Units and their respective communities.
“We are very wary of possible outbreak of communicable, waterborne and vector-borne diseases after disasters, lalo pa ngayong may pandemiya na maaring magdulot ng complex situation. Kaya po bago pa lang pumasok ang rainy season ay naglabas na po kami ng guidelines para sa mga regional offices ng DOH upang makapaghanda ng contingency measures laban sa mga sakit na kung tawagin namin ay W.I.L.D.,” Duque said.
“Rest assured that we at DOH, of course with the support of our LGUs, are doing the best that we can to prevent or control possible outbreaks. Kaya hinihikayat po namin ang lahat ng nasa komunidad na magingat at sundin ang mga abiso ng ating local health authorities upang maiwasan ang pagkalat ng mga nakakahawang sakit,” he added.
According to DOH’s epidemiological analysis, influenza season in the country peaks in July and October, coinciding with the onset of the rainy season as the weather transitions from increased heat and high humidity in the summer to the wet and damp weather conditions.
Meanwhile, the stagnant water due to flooding is a good habitat condition for mosquitoes. These floodwaters may also contain leptospira bacteria which causes leptospirosis. DOH likewise notes that the interruption of safe water supply and sanitation due to flooding may cause water and food contamination which bring other diseases such as cholera, typhoid fever, dysentery, amoebiasis, hepatitis A and acute gastroenteritis.
“Sa ganitong pagkakataon, mas mainam pa rin po ang mga non-pharmaceutical interventions gaya ng palagiang paghuhugas ng kamay at pag-didisinfect ng mga bagay na madalas hinahawakan o high-touch surfaces, at observing proper cough etiquette. Kasama rin dito ang pagbabakuna for vaccine-preventable diseases, pagsusuot ng masks, pagsisiguro na malinis ang inuming tubig, at pagpapanatili ng kalinisan ng kapaligiran upang maiwasan ang flu and other infections,” the health chief said.
Duque further highlighted the importance of having heightened vigilance in evacuation centers.
“Hangga’t maaari po ay iniiwasan natin ang pagkakaroon ng hawaan ng sakit sa loob ng evacuation centers, kaya po may isinasagawang symptom screening at clinical and exposure assessment of evacuees. Pinaiigting din dapat ang promotion at access sa water, sanitation and hygiene, ang pagkakaroon ng vector control, at ang pag-attend sa mga may sakit. Kung maari din po ay nakahiwalay din ang mga matatanda, may comorbidities, buntis at mga infants and toddlers para hindi sila mahawa ng ibang sakit. Ang mga nakatalagang safety officers or HERTs sa evacuation centers, katuwang ng local government units, ang susi sa mga measures na ito,” he said.
In DOH Department Memorandum No. 2020-0318, or the interim guidelines on the prevention and control of COVID-19 during emergency evacuations, the screening, triage, and evaluation of evacuees form part of the specified measures in managing evacuation centers. Furthermore, the minimum public health standards must always be observed at all times.
“Sa kasalukuyan po ay wala pang naitatalang kaso ng COVID-19 sa loob ng evacuation centers ayon sa report ng DOH-Health Emergency Management Bureau. Sana po ay wala tayong maging kaso hanggang sa makauwi lahat ng bakwit sa kani-kanilang bahay. Kaya po patuloy naming minomonitor ang health conditions sa affected areas at patuloy ang aming pag-remind na sumunod sa ating minimum health standards,” Duque concluded.