By John Noel E. Herrera and Joseph B.A. Marzan
Despite the decline in cases of acute gastroenteritis (AGE) and cholera, the Iloilo City Government said that they will still not lift the state of calamity it declared during the initial surge in cases in September 2022.
Iloilo City Health Office (ICHO) head Dr. Annabelle Tang said that they cannot lift it yet, nor can they give assurance when they will lift it as the case movement is still unstable.
“We cannot lift it yet, unfortunately. Sad to say, wala pa assurance, kay subong pa lang siya nag-start (cases to go down) and actually if you look at the graph, saka-panaog (cases) pa siya, and then hindi pa siya muna ka stable, indi pa ma-control,” Tang said in a press conference.
Tang also acknowledged that the current cases are not that high compared to September. However, they still need to make sure that the cases start to ‘steadily go down’, and those affected areas will have their own improved water and waste systems to ensure safe access to potable water before planning to lift the calamity status.
In a press conference on Monday, Oct 24, 2022, Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Trenas also revealed that most of the water refilling stations have already complied with the city government, but reports also came in last week that additional wells must be condemned.
ICHO data indicated that 116 wells were already condemned, meaning the public is prohibited from drawing water from these wells. But 24 more wells must be condemned this week, as three were positive for cholera and the remaining 21 for aeromonas, an AGE-causing bacterium genus.
The city government also distributed 2,462 10-liter bottles of water to affected households, with additional stocks available at the district health centers.
This is on top of water trucks from the water distributor Metro Pacific Iloilo Water being utilized in areas with low water connections and supply.
Data also indicated that no new cases of AGE and cholera were reported in Iloilo City from Oct 22 to 23, while active AGE cases remain at nine.
Data from the City Epidemiological Surveillance Unit (CESU) as of Sunday, Oct 23, indicated that no new AGE and cholera cases detected nor were there new deaths from the two diseases, while 33 new recoveries were logged.
As of Oct 23, Iloilo City has already logged 932 AGE cases, but 97 percent, or 909 cases, have already recovered, while four are still admitted, five are under treatment at home, and 14 died.
Only seven barangays in the city have positive AGE cases – Bolilao and Guzman-Jesena in Mandurriao, Libertad and Sinikway in Lapuz, and Santo Nino Sur in Arevalo, with one case each; and San Rafael in Mandurriao and Ingore, LaPaz with two cases each.
Confirmed cholera cases in the city also remained at 33, and all of them were already discharged and have recovered.
As of Oct 23, 2022, ICHO was able to administer the first dose of the oral vaccine against cholera to 305 residents and its second dose to 167 residents.
ICHO said that the vaccines were given to adults and children aged over one year old who have already recovered from cholera, their close contacts and those who were sourcing water from deep wells which tested positive for cholera.
“Mahinay-hinay siya mag second dose kay hindi sila nagdungan nga first dose and then may two weeks siya nga gap,” Tang added.
Tang also said that additional doses of cholera vaccines will be available, but the brand of this ‘capsule form’ vaccine can only be given to 11 years old and above.
Dr. Roland Jay Fortuna earlier explained that they resorted to this vaccine as there is no more source of the ShanChol cholera vaccine that can be given to those over one year old.
The city has also administered 352 first doses of the Indian-made Shanchol cholera vaccine, and 167 on second dose, with a 2-week gap between doses.