DOH raises alert with rapid spike of dengue cases in PH regions

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 15) — For the first time, the Department of Health on Monday declared a "national dengue alert" following the rapid rise in dengue cases in several regions in the country.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque said 106,630 cases have been recorded nationwide from January to June 29 this year — an 85 percent increase compared to the same period in 2018 — with a mortality rate of 0.4 percent or 456 deaths. He, however, assured there is no national epidemic yet.

"No national dengue epidemic. It's localized," he said in a media briefing.

Regions with the most number of dengue cases recorded are Western Visayas (13,164), CALABARZON (11,474), Central Visayas (9,199), SOCCSKARGEN (9,107), and Northern Mindanao (8,739).

Health officials are also monitoring the situation in Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, CALABARZON, Bicol, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Davao, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and Cordillera Administrative Region.

Duque said peak in dengue cases has been observed every 3 to 4 years. The Philippines had a spike in dengue cases in 2016, therefore DOH is expecting a rise in cases this year.

"It's a phenomenon. No science is able to explain it," the Health Secretary said.

World Health Organization Country Representative Dr. Gundo Weiler noted there is a rise in dengue cases globally.

"We have to brace for a severe dengue outbreak this year," he said.

Where to get treatment

The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) said on Monday that hospital confinements due to dengue are compensable.

“PhilHealth correspondingly insures its eligible patients with dengue (with or without warning) and severe dengue at ₱10,000 and ₱16,000,” said Retired MGen Ricardo C. Morales, PhilHealth’s President and Chief Executive Officer.

Morales added non-severe dengure could be treated in primary care facilities at a P7,000-package.

The state health insurer also said even non-PhilHealth members can avail of benefits when needing confinement due to dengue complications.

Dengue is a viral disease with no known vaccine, but it is preventable through early detection. Signs and symptoms include severe headache, pain behind the eyes, severe joint and muscle pain, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and skin rashes.

DOH emphasized the importance of the 4S strategy: Search and destroy mosquito breeding places, secure self-protection, seek early consultation and support fogging/ spraying only in hotspot areas.