Those in Metro Manila don’t need to wear N95 masks says DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   January 14, 2020   •   225

MANILA, Philippines – People living in Metro Manila don’t really need to buy, wear – or hoard – N95 face masks amid the eruption of Taal Volcano, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Tuesday.  

The DOH made the clarification following the increase in the prices and demand for N95 mask and other similar protective gear after Taal ashfall reached parts of Metro Manila and Central Luzon.

“Pero dito po sa mga areas like Metro Manila, Region 3, yung mga areas po na nasabugan nga po ng ashfall, puwede naman po tayong gumamit ng not necessarily ng N95, but we can use the regular surgical mask,” Health Assistant Secretary Maria Francia Laxamana said in a press briefing.

She also called on traders and the public to reserve available supplies of N95 face masks to people that need it the most, particularly those evacuated from the Taal Volcano 14-kilometer danger zone.

“Huwag na muna tayong gumamit ng N95 mask dito sa Metro manila, ibigay na po muna natin sa ating mga kababayan sa areas ng Batangas at Cavite,” she said.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday warned retailers taking advantage of the demand for face masks amid the eruption of Taal volcano.

“Kasi itong mga negosyante if the demand is high then magkakaroon tayo ng medyo magkulang, then the prices go up. Or the worst thing that they can do if they have enough supplies and yet they are selling it at prohibitive prices already. So I’m setting the limit,” Duterte said.

“Mura na man ‘yan, bakit…? Do not hoard it. ‘Pag itinago ninyo then I will be forced to order na pasukin ka,” he warned.

For people who cannot buy or get their hands on N95 face masks, the DOH said they may use alternatives to protect themselves from the dangers of volcanic ash.

They may use old t-shirts, cloth, bandana or wet strips of cloth to cover their nose and mouth to avoid inhalation of fine dust particles.

“Pinaka-critical lang po and very basic yung something moist, para yung ashfall mababara niya yung pagpasok ng ashfall, yung ingestion through the nose and through the mouth,” Laxamana said.

The DOH earlier warned the public of the hazards of Taal Volcano’s steam-driven explosion on Sunday, saying that exposure to volcanic ash can cause nose and throat irritation, coughing, bronchitis-like illness, discomfort while breathing, eye irritation and minor skin problems.

The department also advised the public to stay indoors, minimize exposure to ash and use dust masks.

The DOH, meanwhile, advised residents in Quezon and Laguna areas to prepare for possible ashfall from Taal Volcano as the wind direction is seen to shift in the following days. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

DILG to affected LGUs, residents: Be prepared for any eventuality

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 28, 2020

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) reminds residents and local government units (LGUs) of areas affected by the Taal eruption to remain vigilant despite the lowering of alert level from 4 to 3.

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said that even the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said that residents in the Taal area should still be on guard.

“The crisis is not over. It’s over when there is no longer any alert level,” he said. “Maging handa at listo pa rin tayo sa ano mang puwedeng mangyari para masiguro ang kaligtasan ng ating mga kababayan, (Let us remain alert and vigilant on what might happen to ensure the safety of our fellowmen)

Año also said residents outside of the 7-km danger zone may return to their respective residences and places of work subject to clearance from their respective Local Government Units.

“Based on your sound discretion, you may advise residents, communities, and owners of business establishments, particularly those outside the 7-km Danger Zone, that they have the option to return, but must be prepared for a quick and organized evacuation at such time that the alert level will again be raised,” he said to the various LGUs.

Meanwhile, the DILG Secretary said entry into the Taal Volcano Island’s Permanent Danger Zone is strictly prohibited.

Based on reports from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), a total of 102,443 families were affected by the Taal eruption in the provinces of Batangas, Quezon, Laguna and Cavite and a total of P3.352-billion worth of damage to infrastructure and agriculture was incurred in Batangas, Laguna, and Cavite.—AAC

DOH: 11 patients under investigation for suspected novel coronavirus

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 27, 2020

The Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed that 11 patients are under investigation for suspected novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the Philippines.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the 11 patients under investigation have a history of travel to Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the virus.

Based on the DOH, two of the 11 patients are in Metro Manila, one in MIMAROPA, three in Western Visayas, one in Eastern Visayas, three in Central Visayas and one in Northern Mindanao.

Duque said all the patients under investigation are being closely monitored. He also reiterated that there are still zero confirmed nCoV cases in the Philippines.

“There shouldn’t be any cause for alarm. Just because we flashed the areas where the PUIs come from, it doesn’t mean those areas are infected with the novel coronavirus, because there’s none. We keep harping the fact that there is none—still zero as of today,” he said.

DOH Epidemiology Bureau officer-in-charge Chito Avelino said the five-year-old patient in Cebu has already been discharged, while the others are already in the process of being released.

The DOH also reminds the public to practice good hygiene to prevent the risk of infection from any virus.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

PH Navy donates relief goods to Taal victims

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 27, 2020

The Philippine Navy (PN) donated P700,000 worth of relief goods to the municipality of San Luis in Batangas on Sunday (January 26).

According to the Philippine Navy, three evacuation sites where identified for the distribution of the relief goods: San Isidro Labrador Parish Church in Brgy. Poblacion, Taliba Evacuation Center in BrgyTaliba and San Luis Academy in Calumpang West.

Around 4,000 relief goods were given to the evacuees in the three said areas which include a pail, 1 kilo of rice, assorted canned goods, food packs, bottled waters and personal hygiene kits.

Other relief goods from various organizations were also distributed.

“150 mattress foamS from Uratex Company and dozens of various relief items from other PN stakeholders were also distributed in this activity,” according to the Philippine Navy.

Philippine Navy Flag Officer In Command Vice Admiral Robert A. Empedrad said he wants to ensure proper assistance is provided by the Philippine Navy before he retires. Empedrad will be retiring from office by next week.

“We are always willing to assist our stakeholders as we assure everyone that your Navy is always ready to serve in every situation and that you can always count on us,” he said.—AAC

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