DOH warns of possible measles outbreak in 2021

Robie de Guzman   •   October 8, 2020   •   746

MANILA, Philippines – Amid the fight against the novel coronavirus disease, the Department of Health (DOH) said it is also preparing for a possible measles outbreak next year.

According to DOH National Immunization Program Manager Dr. Maria Wilda Silva, they are seeing a massive outbreak of measles in 2021 due to low public response to the agency’s immunization campaign.

Silva said the DOH vaccination program only reached around 67 percent, and that those who have missed the immunization would be susceptible to the measles infection.

There is also an ongoing recirculation of polio virus in communities.

She said an estimated 2.4 million children under the age of five are facing risk of infection from measles and polio.

Measles is one of the most contagious diseases in the world. It can cause high-grade fever, rashes, cough, eye infection and can lead to complications such as pneumonia, ear infection, blindness, severe diarrhea, and swelling of the brain.

Polio, on the other hand, is a potentially debilitating disease that causes fever, neck stiffness, muscle weakness and can eventually lead to lifelong paralysis.

If severe enough, both diseases can ultimately lead to death.

The DOH said there is no specific treatment for these illnesses and that the only reliable protection is through vaccination.

To avert a possible outbreak, the department said it will roll out a supplemental immunization activity against measles, rubella, and polio starting Oct. 26.

Under the immunization program, children aged 9 to 59 months old will be given measles-rubella vaccine while 0 to 59 months old will be provided with oral polio vaccine.

The health department said the program will be rolled out in two phases – phase 1 will be conducted from Oct. 26 to Nov. 25 in Mindanao, Cordillera Administrative Region, Ilocos region, Cagayan Valley Region, MIMAROPA Region, and Bicol Region; while phase 2 will be held in February 2021 in Visayas, National Capital Region, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon.

The DOH said the vaccination activity will be conducted in a modified site with health workers donning personal protective equipment due to the continuing threat of COVID-19.

Parents and caregivers are urged to have their children immunized to protect them from measles, polio, and rubella. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

Philippines posts 4,734 new COVID-19 cases

Robie de Guzman   •   May 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines on Tuesday recorded 4,734 new cases of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), pushing the total tally to 1,113,547.

In the latest bulletin, the Department of Health (DOH) said the country’s total number of active cases is at 56,752.

Of this number, 93.4 percent are mild, 2.2 percent are asymptomatic, 1.8 percent are severe, and 1.4 percent are in critical condition.

The DOH said the lower case count is due to the low number of samples received by the laboratories. At least 12 laboratories also failed to submit their data last Sunday.

Ngayong 4 PM, Mayo 11, 2021, ang Department of Health ay nakapagtala ng 4,734 na karagdagang kaso ng COVID-19. Samantala…

Posted by Department of Health (Philippines) on Tuesday, May 11, 2021

The number of recoveries rose to 1,038,175 after 7,837 more patients recuperated from the viral respiratory disease.

The death toll climbed to 18,620 with 59 new fatalities.

The DOH also reported in its bulletin a positivity rate of 12.2 percent out of 32,205 tests.

The case count reflected in the latest bulletin was based on tests conducted on May 9, it added.

2 cases of B.1.617 COVID-19 variant have no travel history to India – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   May 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The B.1.617 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) variant first detected in India has been found in the Philippines, the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed Tuesday.

The DOH said the two cases found with the said variant are two male overseas Filipino workers. One patient is a 37-year old male who arrived from Oman on April 10, while the other is a 58-year old male who came from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on April 19.

According to DOH Epidemiology Bureau Director Alethea de Guzman, the patients have already been tagged as recovered and released from quarantine after they tested negative for the virus.

 “Yung ating dalawang kaso po have already been tagged as recovered and as mentioned, they are currently asymptomatic,” De Guzman said during an online briefing.

“It’s been more than 2 weeks for one, and almost a month mula nang unang arrival ng isang kaso natin. Yung unang kasong nabanggit natin na nasa region 12 na po ay nag-test negative na po on their repeat PCR,” she added.

 There were no listed close contacts of the two cases, De Guzman said.

 “Dahil ang ating mga kaso naman pagdating ay nailagay na sa quarantine tapos nilipat sa isang isolation facility mula nang mag-test positive, wala po tayong na-detect na close contacts,” she said.

The two patients also had no travel history to India based on their information, De Guzman added.

The B.1.617 variant was first detected in India last October 2020 and is currently found in 46 countries, according to the global genome database (GISAID).

De Guzman said this variant has at least 15 different mutations, with two mutations of significance in the spike region – L452R and E484Q.

Health experts said that the mutation L452R has been associated with increased transmissibility and reduced antibody neutralization, which means that this may help the virus evade antibodies in recovered or vaccinated individuals.

The mutation E484Q, meanwhile, can increase the virus’ binding capacity to the ACE2 receptor and may help the virus escape immune response.

“Further studies are necessary to understand the transmissibility, infectivity, and effect on vaccine efficacy of the B.1.617 variant,” experts said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday classified the B.1.617 variant as a “variant of concern at the global level.” This is the fourth coronavirus variant to be classified as such, joining the B.1.1.7 (United Kingdom), B.1.351 (South Africa), and P.1 (Brazil) variants.

The WHO defines a variant of concern as more contagious than the original form, hard to control or they lead to more severe illness.

The B.1.617 variant contains mutations linked to increase transmissibility, and immune escape.

The Philippines has implemented a 15-day travel restriction until May 14 on inbound passengers from India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.

The DOH called on local authorities to implement stricter border control to prevent a local transmission of the said variant.

 

Philippines records 2 cases of COVID-19 variant first detected in India

Robie de Guzman   •   May 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The B.1.617 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) variant first detected in India has been found in the Philippines, the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed Tuesday.

“Nais po naming ipaalam sa publiko na tayo po ay may natukoy na dalawang kaso na may nasabing variant,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an online briefing.

Vergeire made the announcement after five travelers from India tested positive for COVID-19 last week. Their samples were sent to the Philippine Genome Center for whole genome sequencing.

The DOH earlier said the five travelers were among more than 100 people who arrived in the country before the travel ban was imposed on April 29 to stop the entry of the new variant.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday classified the B.1.617 variant as a “variant of concern at the global level.” This is the fourth coronavirus variant to be classified as such, joining the B.1.1.7 (United Kingdom), B.1.351 (South Africa), and P.1 (Brazil) variants.

The WHO defines a variant of concern as more contagious than the original form, hard to control or they lead to more severe illness, and perhaps resistant to vaccines.

The B.1.617 variant contains mutations linked to increase transmissibility, and immune escape.

The Philippines has implemented a 15-day travel restriction until May 14 on inbound passengers from India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.

The DOH called on local authorities to implement stricter border control to prevent a local transmission of the said variant.

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