Norovirus outbreak hits Zamboanga City; DOH calls for strict hygiene
MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) advised the public, on Monday, to observe strict hygiene as it started monitoring an outbreak of norovirus, also known as the winter vomiting bug, in Zamboanga City.
In a press conference, Health Secretary Janette Garin said the health agency has already poured in P5 million in monetary aid to the government hospitals in the city to help patients defray costs of hospitalization and other medical expenses due to the virus.
Garin said the DOH, through its Epidemiology Bureau and the hospitals in the city have recently seen a sudden spike in cases of diarrhea, which prompted the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine to examine the samples sent from the patients.
Out of the 19 samples sent to the RITM, 15 yielded positive for norovirus, said the health chief.
Norovirus, is a highly contagious virus that causes viral gastroenteritis in humans. It is transmitted through contaminated food or water or by touching contaminated surfaces. Main symptoms include stomach pain, nausea and diarrhea.
Globally, the virus affects 267 million people and causes 200,000 deaths annually.
To protect oneself against the virus, the health chief reiterated the importance of proper hand washing especially after going to the toilet. “We are tracking down the index case …but what is important at this point in time is for us to be aggressive in terms of hygiene,” said Garin. SFM