Mindoro oil spill: DOH says one resident hospitalized for shortness of breath
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday said that only one individual exposed to the oil spill in Oriental Mindoro has so far been admitted to a hospital.
“Marami tayong naitala sa area sa Pola, Oriental Mindoro na nagkaroon ng mga difficulty of breathing at ‘yung isa na-aggravate ang hika kaya kinailangang dalhin sa ospital,” said DOH officer-in-charge Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire in a press briefing.
(We recorded many in the Pola area in Oriental Mindoro who experienced breathing difficulty, and one of them was aggravated by asthma, so the person required being brought to the hospital.)
“Isa lang ang na-admit ‘yung nagkaroon ng aggravation ng hik. Other than that, wala pa naman tayong naitatala na naadmit sa ospital,” she added.
(Only one was admitted to the hospital, the one with asthma.)
But the said patient had already recovered and was released a day after being admitted to the hospital.
Apart from respiratory-related cases, Vergeire also reported that some residents living near the affected shorelines also experienced headaches and dizziness.
“Ito lahat ay napansin natin na mga short-term lang na mga sintomas, pagtapos natin i-manage ang health care faciltiies at i-monitor ng doktor, after 2-3 hours nawawala din ang nararanasan,” said Vergeire.
(We observed that all these were only short-term symptoms, that after we can manage them at health care facilities and doctor’s monitoring, after 2-3 hours, their symptoms disappear.)
Potential symptoms when exposed
Still, she warned residents near areas affected by the oil spill to remain mindful of potential symptoms.
“Hindi natin masasabi kung ano ‘yung specific na sakit na makukuha nila pero may mga sintomas na mararamdaman,” the DOH official said.
(We cannot say what illness they can get, but some symptoms may be felt.)
According to Vergeire, the symptoms will depend on the exposure mode, including through air, which may trigger existing respiratory conditions like asthma.
She added that residents who mistakenly drank contaminated water may suffer vomiting, stomach pain, and loose bowel.
Coordination with local gov’t
Vergeire, in the same briefing, then assured the public that it is already coordinating with the relevant local governments to issue guidelines on how to deal with exposure to the oil spill and ensure residents’ safety and well-being.
She said the DOH is currently awaiting test results from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Philippine Coast Guard, as well as test results conducted on several water sources in affected areas.
“But I guided our municipal health officers as well as the local officials to not wait for the test anymore. We need to plan already and do some action,” Vergeire said.
Specifically, she noted, one of the first actions that DOH did was to identify and classify residents living 100 meters and 500 meters from the affected waters.
Those living within 100 meters of the affected area should get their drinking water supply from the local government and must use industrial face masks. The elderly and those with respiratory problems within this range were likewise advised to relocate.
The oil spill ensued after MT Princess Empress sank off Naujan town. The tanker was carrying 800,000 liters of industrial fuel. The environment department had warned that the oil spill may impact up to 21 locally managed marine protected areas.