STATE OF CALAMITY. Health officials visit the Calbayog District Hospital in Samar crowded with dengue fever patients. The Samar Provincial Board approved the declaration of a state of calamity in the province as dengue fever cases continue to surge. (Photo courtesy of Department of Health)

TACLOBAN CITY -- The province of Samar is now under state of calamity as dengue cases continue to surge despite massive efforts to contain the mosquito-borne illness.

In a special session Saturday afternoon, the provincial board approved the resolution to put the entire province under a state of calamity as local health authorities recorded 1,855 cases from January to July this year.

This is nearly double than the 653 dengue cases recorded in 2018.

Data shows that Calbayog City has the most number of dengue cases with 461 or an increase of 83 percent from 2018. The city recorded one death.

Catbalogan, the capital city of Samar, ranks second with 340 cases and one death. This is 254 percent higher than the 96 dengue cases reported in the same period last year.

“The foregoing alarming figures command the urgent action from the province to mitigate, control and eventually eliminate dengue infection. Thus, the need to declare the entire province of Samar under state of calamity to mobilize all concerned and take necessary steps to obtain our objective of eliminating dengue infection,” the resolution reads.

Samar is the third province in Eastern Visayas placed under state of calamity, after Leyte and Eastern Samar.

“The declaration is really important at this stage because of the continuous increase of dengue cases in the province. I visited Samar provincial hospital and I met a mother whose five of her six children are all dengue patients,” Vice Governor Michael Tan said in a phone interview Monday.

“I hope that all residents of Samar will cooperate to address this health problem. We encourage all officials in towns and cities in Samar to continue their anti-dengue campaign and to continue cleaning the environment to destroy the mosquito breeding grounds,” he added.

In an effort to address dengue problem, the Samar Provincial Hospital activated the dengue fast lane and also opened the special dengue cases section.

The hospital management has been regularly communicating with the Regional Epidemiology Section Unit for updates on the number of dengue cases through its Disease Surveillance Officers.

Aside from the cities of Calbayog and Catbalogan, dengue cases are also reported in 24 towns in the province.

Towns with most dengue cases are Gandara (163), Sta. Margarita (143), Sta. Rita (131), Zumarraga (105), Villareal and Daram (77 cases each), Basey (65), Tarangnan (46), Paranas (45), Marabut (43), San Jorge (28), Hinabangan and Calbiga (20 cases each), Jiabong (17), Talalora (15), Pagsanghan (13), Pinabacdao and Matuguinao (12 cases each), and Motiong (10).

The towns with single-digit dengue cases are Sto. Niño (nine), Almagro (six), San Sebastian (four), and one case each in San Jose de Buan and Tagapul-an. (PNA)