DOH on alert for return of dengue during COVID-19 pandemic
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines faces a struggle on two health fronts in the coming rainy season, with the return of dengue compounding efforts to drive away the new coronavirus.
But the Department of Health (DOH) says it is ensuring that dealing with rainy season diseases like dengue will not add to the burden of the country’s health-care system in fighting COVID-19, the severe respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Sunday said the DOH was educating local governments in separately handling COVID-19 and other diseases for which services should continue to be offered by the health-care system despite the coronavirus crisis.
The DOH has designated COVID-19 referral hospitals where coronavirus patients should be taken for treatment.
“We want COVID patients to be treated in these specific hospitals so we can have space for non-COVID patients in other hospitals,” Vergeire said.
In addition to the referral hospitals, the government has converted some venues of sports and entertainment events into quarantines to handle coronavirus cases. These venues include the Rizal Memorial Stadium, Philippine International Convention Center, and the World Trade Center.
Vergeire said the health-care sector was in the transition phase to the separate handling of coronavirus and other diseases.
Earlier this year, the DOH said dengue cases in the country were declining, with 815 cases recorded from Dec. 22 to 31, 87 percent lower than in the same period in 2018.
But the DOH declared a national dengue epidemic last year, when cases reached 271,480 from January to August, the highest in Southeast Asia.
More than 1,100 people, almost half of the children aged 5 to 9, died of dengue last year.
—TINA G. SANTOS
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