ILOILO CITY – Western Visayas has posted a 15 percent increase in cases of flu-like illness this year, with 3,674 from Jan. 1 to Sept. 16, compared with 3,199 cases in the same period last year.
Data from the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU) of the Department of Health Western Visayas Center for Health Development (DOH WV CHD) also showed 139 deaths this year as against 26 for the same period in 2022.
Dr. Mary Jane Roches Juanico-Esteva, head of the DOH WV CHD-RESU, said they received reports of increasing cases of flu-like symptoms mostly affecting children and detected in schools.
“However, we also have cases of senior citizens and other vulnerable populations experiencing flu-like symptoms. It is dangerous for the vulnerable population because when left unattended, they could have another superimposed bacterial infection,” she said in an interview on Wednesday.
Juanico-Esteva added they are monitoring the weekly trend to check whether or not cases are higher in the previous weeks.
During morbidity week 37 from Sept. 10-16, RESU recorded 41 new cases with one death.
“Our data came from our field reporting units,” the medical officer added.
She advised the public to visit the nearest health center or hospital to get tested for common viruses in case of prolonged symptoms.
Influenza vaccines are available from private physicians, or they can go to government health centers for free vaccines to senior citizens, Juanico-Esteva said.
“Usually, viruses like flu virus are seasonal. During cold days, there is a high viral load in the surroundings,” she added.
Meanwhile, the Department of Education (DepEd) in the region reminded schools to coordinate with local government units in responding to health issues and to always prioritize the health and well-being of their students.
In a separate interview, DepEd regional information officer Hernani Escullar Jr. said school division offices are requested to submit a report to the regional office about sickness among learners.
He said schools have sanitizing and hand washing areas for learners to maintain hygiene.
“We would like to reiterate for schools to emphasize their hygiene for it to become a habit for learners,” he said.
Escullar said at the start of this school year, the regional office released Memorandum No. 37 on ensuring the safe return of learners to school. (PNA)