Guv changes tune, says PHO not ready to declare FHMD outbreak yet

By Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – In a turnaround from his statement early this week that he is most likely to declare an outbreak of the hand-foot-and-mouth disease (HFMD), Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said Thursday that the Provincial Health Office (PHO) is not yet ready to make such declaration.

“The PHO is still monitoring the situation,” Lacson told reporters here.

He reiterated that he will always be guided by the PHO.

“As of today they are not ready to declare  an outbreak,” Lacson stressed.

He added that the PHO is saying that “it is not as if the volume (of cases) increased in a certain area, it is through the weeks.”

“Our number is not like Ilollo is in right now,” he further said.

Lacson said the explanation of the PHO is that “it has not reach a point  where we can declare an outbreak.”

On Monday, Lacson said that he is likely to declare an HFMD outbreak after cases increased by 6,300 percent this year.

“According to the PHO, there is an increase of 6,300 percent, that really is very alarming,” Lacson said at that time.

Though the increase in percentage is 6,300, the actual number of cases is 315.

Provincial Health Office head Dr. Ernell Tumimbang said the increase in HFMD cases indicates it could be easily transmitted now that there is face-to-face interaction, especially among children in school.

“I will follow their recommendation, they are in a better position to advise to declare an outbreak, they are the experts, I will have to follow their judgment,” Lacson said.

He urged the municipal and city health offices in the province to inform their respective constituents about containing the spread of HFMD.

In the fifth morbidity week this year alone, Negros Occidental recorded 85 new cases

HFMD cases increased from five last year to 315 cases this year, the PHO reported.

The alert threshold is at three cases while the epidemic threshold is at five cases, according to the PHO.

The PHO report further indicated that Kabankalan City has the highest number of HFMD cases with 73.

On Monday, the Iloilo Provincial Health Office (IPHO) declared an outbreak of the disease (HFMD) as cases breached the 1,000 mark.

IPHO head Dr. Maria Socorro Colmenares-Quiñon confirmed the HFMD outbreak in the province after they recorded 1,115 cases so far this year, which is 2,004 percent higher compared to 53 cases reported in the same period in 2022.