DOH logs over 1.6K respiratory cases in Albay amid Mayon unrest

By Ma. Teresa Montemayor

July 17, 2023, 2:48 pm

<p>Department of Health façade<em> (File photo)</em></p>

Department of Health façade (File photo)

MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) has recorded 1,624 acute respiratory infections among evacuees in Albay amid Mayon Volcano's continuing unrest.

DOH Undersecretary Enrique Tayag said Monday the respiratory cases included coughs, colds, and sore throats, and were logged under the syndromic surveillance based on symptoms.

The department earlier warned that exposure to ash fall may cause health problems such as irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, coughing, bronchitis-like illness, discomfort while breathing, skin irritation, and minor skin problems.

Tayag noted that reported cases of fever, headache and wounds are declining and no new cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) have been reported as of July 16.

"There are no active cases or confirmed cases reported in evacuation camps. The four reported cases on July 14 have already yielded negative results and were already released from isolation," he said in a media briefing.

The DOH has yet to release the total tally of Covid-19 cases in the evacuation centers from June 12 to 16.

Bivalent Covid-19 vaccines have been administered as third booster doses to healthcare workers (including volunteers) and senior citizens in the evacuation centers.

"So, 'yung mga medical team namin doon, aming sinigurado na sila ay bakunado gamit ang (we ensured that our medical teams there were vaccinated with) bivalent Covid-19 vaccines," Tayag said.

"Maraming umaapela sa amin na ang bivalent vaccines ay maibigay as first and second boosters. Ito ngayon ay pinag-aaralan namin, subalit 'yang donasyon na 'yan na 390,000 ay binukod po 'yun para sa third booster (Many are appealing for us to give the bivalent vaccines as first and second boosters. We're looking into this, but 390,000 donated doses were designated for third booster)."

Under the guidelines released by the Health Technology Assessment Council, bivalent vaccines may be administered as booster doses four months after the last booster dose given to an individual.

For mental health cases, Tayag said they have not received any reports, only anecdotes about some evacuees wanting to go home to work or feeling uncomfortable because the evacuation site is not a familiar environment to them.

"Ihininanda na po namin silang lahat na ito ay pangmatagalan lalo na't ang sabi ng Phivolcs [Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology] ay tatagal ito ng linggo, buwan, bago 'yung inaasahan nating pagsabog ay magaganap (We have prepared them that this could be for a long time since the Phivolcs said that this will last for weeks, months, before the expected eruption happens)," he said.

To ensure that the displaced population, healthcare workers and volunteers have good mental health, the DOH provides them timely updates and aid for their daily needs.

The DOH also reminded them to get checked for any symptoms that they feel may affect their mental health. (PNA)