By Dolly Yasa, Lilibeth A. French, and Pilar S. Mabaquiao
The regional office of the Department of Health-Center for Health Development (DOH-CHD) in Western Visayas and local government units (LGUs) linked up with private hospitals to push the information and education campaign against the 2019-novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
DOH-CHD-6 recently gathered top-level management health care workers from the six provinces and two highly urbanized cities in the region for an Orientation on the 2019-nCoV Preparedness and Response for Western Visayas
The one-day activity was also attended by representatives from six provincial hospitals and four DOH-retained hospitals in the region and private hospitals from the cities of Iloilo and Bacolod.
Dr. Mary Jane Juanico, Infectious Disease Section head of DOH-CHD-6, said that apart from formal discussions on the disease, the activity was aimed at enhancing case management and hospital readiness in the region.
To further heighten awareness and information, Juanico said DOH-CHD 6 started distributing information materials on nCoV to key health facilities and various establishments such as hotels, resorts and public transportation.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) leaflets were also provided to health care workers to increase their understanding of the disease and to guide them in properly handling cases.
Based on the DOH nCoV tracker as of Feb 4, 2020, Western Visayas has 10 patients under investigation (PUIs) – five are still in hospitals while 5 were already discharged but still under monitoring.
Juanico said washing hands frequently and covering mouth or nose when coughing or sneezing are two basic protections against nCoV, which is spread by saliva droplets.
In Bacolod City, Mayor Evelio Leonardia on Wednesday ordered village chiefs of the 61 barangays in the city to immediately organize and mobilize their Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERTS).
The move is in keeping with the guidelines issued by the Department of Interior and Local Govenment (DILG) in response to the nCoV outbreak.
Leonardia’s order is contained in Memorandum Order No. 12 he issued in consonance with DILG Memorandum Circular No. 2020-018.
The BHERTS were formed to help manage suspected coronavirus patients and trace other persons they had contact with.
The memorandum circular also instructed the barangay officials to impose the 14-day compulsory home confinement for persons who arrived from coronavirus-affected.
Punong barangays may request help from the Bacolod City Police Office if the BHERT fails to enforce the required confinement period.
Barangay captains were also ordered to conduct barangay cleanup campaigns and promote the widespread information drive on corona virus prevention, containment, and control.
In a separate memorandum order, Leonardia also directed the City Health Office to supervise and assist the BHERTs in handling cases of persons placed under the 14-day confinement.
Another memorandum circular to the Bacolod City Police Office under Col. Henry Biñas, directed the police force to assist in the referral and transport of suspected coronavirus patients to a DOH-designated hospital.
Police can also initiate checkpoints if necessary.
In Iloilo, the provincial government is preparing a hospital isolation area for suspected 2019-nCoV cases.
The area is located at Dr. Ricardo Y. Ladrido Memorial District Hospital (DRYLMDH) in Lambunao town and will cater to PUIs.
In a press release, Hospital Management Office Chief Dr. Cynthia Cabangal-Ng said DRYLMDH has six isolation units and is capable of providing extension rooms.
“If ever there will be a spillover, we can possibly transfer all patients of Lambunao to other district hospitals. Lambunao will then be dedicated to PUIs only,” she said.
Hospital personnel who will handle the patients will undergo training on self-protection.
But Dr. Ng said the province remains coronavirus-free.
The provincial government will also purchase protective gears for hospital personnel and thermal scanners.
In Antique, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) chaired by Governor Rhodora J. Cadiao recently met to discuss measures to prevent and control the spread of the 2019-nCOV.
Cadiao asked the public to be vigilant as they do their best to prevent the spread of the virus.
The council passed the resolution recommending to Cadiao that she issue an executive order strengthening prevention and control measures against 2019-nCOV.
The EO will also support the interim guidelines of DOH and Memorandum Circular No. 2020-018 of DILG (Guide to action against corona virus) and adopt the recommended nCOV flow of referral of the PDRRMC.
As part of prevention and control measures against nCOV, the PDRRMC approved a resolution informing Philippine Airlines that the Antique Airport in San Jose de Buenavista town will bar visitors from other countries with reported cases of nCOV in the meantime.
Municipalities frequented by tourists were also urged to initiate measures against nCOV.
Mayor Elmer Untaran of San Jose said the town has established measures at the airport to profile passengers who arrive and leave the province.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Ric Noel Naciongayo briefed members of the council on DOH guidelines against nCoV. He also urged local officials to set aside funds for the necessary logistics. (With reports from PIA-Iloilo and Antique)