By John Noel E. Herrera
Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr, on Wednesday, Feb 22, 2023, issued Executive Order (EO) No. 056 s. 2023, implementing the “prevention, detection, isolation, treatment, and reintegration strategy” to manage and control the spread of hand-foot-and-mouth disease (HFMD) in the province.
This, after the Iloilo Provincial Health Office (IPHO) declared an outbreak of HFMD in the province as reported cases already breached the 2,000 mark.
The EO stated that the towns should conduct an “intensified implementation of the HFMD preventive measures”, while the residents are “enjoined to practice minimum health standards (MPHS) for HFMD, observing the 3M Strategy – Mag Maskara, Manghinaw kag Mag Distansya.”
It also urged residents to perform mandatory hand washing with soap and water; strengthen infection prevention; avoid sharing of personal items; use of appropriate personal protective equipment; proper waste disposal, and daily disinfection of day care centers and primary schools.
Each barangay should form its own response team, which would conduct “intensified HFMD surveillance, screening, management, and infection control of suspect, probable and confirmed HFMD cases.”
While all primary caregivers, clinicians, and health workers shall assess the presence of common clinical manifestations of HFMD, such as fever, mouth sores, and papulovesicular skin rash, and report any suspected and confirmed cases within 24 hours to the DOH through the Municipal l Epidemiology and Surveillance Units (MESUs).
To prevent more infections in settings with clustering of HFMD cases, childcare settings such as daycare centers, development centers, and primary schools could be temporarily closed for disinfection, upon the recommendation of assigned health personnel.
It is also advised that the patients and the parents should immediately seek medical consultation if symptoms persist beyond 10 days, as “individuals with uncomplicated HFMD usually recover in seven to 10 days and can resume regular activities upon recovery.”
Despite the outbreak declaration, Defensor earlier said that the provincial government would not declare a state of calamity.
“Ang declaration sang state of calamity may use na sa aton, but so far, we don’t need the state of calamity to execute. Halimbawa, sa pondo, waay man kita sang price regulation nga kinahanglang,” he said.
The governor noted that the cases already breached the province’s alert and epidemic thresholds, but he reiterated that the IPHO is on top of everything, following the implementation of the said EO to contain the spread of the disease.
“We are going down, based on the trending…not that we are very happy because of that, but amu na ang aton nga (situation) and ara na kita sa epidemic level. We will continue to fight that,” he added.
Data from Iloilo Provincial Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (IPESU) indicated that the province has already recorded a total of 2,066 HFMD cases so far this year.
The towns of Santa Barbara posted the highest number of cases with 236, followed by Alimodian with (128); Leon (126); Calinog (112); Badiangan (110); Barotac Viejo (102); Bingawan (86); Mina (76); Passi City (76), and Sara (74), while the rest of the cases are spread in other towns.