MANILA -- The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday warned the public against swimming in Manila Bay.

In a statement, the DOH said it supports the government's recent rehabilitation efforts of the bay. However, it advised the public to wait until the bay's water is deemed safe for recreational swimming.

"It still needs to undergo testing for chemical and physical quality, and coliform levels. Coliform are associated with contaminants such as a fecal matter in water; the safe level of coliform must be less than 100 Most Probable Number per 100 milliliters," the statement reads.

The DOH said it is coordinating with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) with regard to the bay water's testing.

The DOH said swimming in polluted bodies of water could lead to gastrointestinal diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, typhoid, dysentery, as well as skin diseases and eye infection.

"If not treated properly, some of these diseases may lead to complications or death. Let us practice good hygiene and sanitation and continue supporting the ongoing rehabilitation of Manila Bay," the statement added.

On January 27, the DENR launched the Manila Bay rehabilitation program with the help of other government agencies, multi-sectorial groups, stakeholders, religious groups, academe, students, civic, and other non-government organizations. (PNA)