Acting on a directive from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the provincial government has reorganized the Emerging-Re-Emerging Infectious Disease Provincial Task Force (EREID PTF) to address at its level the containment, prevention and control of any infectious disease such as the 2019 novel Corona Virus Acute Respiratory Disease (2019 nCoV-ARD).
Through an Executive Order, Acting Governor Shirley Abundo directed the recomposition of the task force which she heads as chairperson and with Provincial Health Officer II Dr. Hazel Palmes as vice chairperson.
Named as members were other provincial health officials, Bishop Manolo delos Santos, agency heads of the DILG, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Philippine Information Agency (PIA), Radyo Pilipinas and and Philippine National Police (PNP), the Sangguniang Panlalawigan health committee chair, the chiefs of district hospitals, the president of the mayors’ league, Philippine Councilors’ League and the Liga ng mga Barangay, key provincial department heads, the president of the Philippine Hospital Association (PHA), medical officers or nurses of the Catanduanes State University and other colleges, the presidents of medical, dental, nurses and medical tehnologists’ associations, and the Barangay Health Workers (BHW) federation president.
The task force will initiate and recommend measures to contain emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases at all levels and the passage of related ordinances to the Sanggunians; take the lead in the information dissemination; provide health advisories; ensure prompt and regular reporting of any suspected and confirmed cases; and, craft a Preparedness Action Plan for submission to the Office of the Governor.
Last Monday, the task force sat down in an inter-agency meeting with municipal mayors, PDRRMC, PPOC, owners of tourist establishments, malls, funeral services, bankers, and public utility owners to discuss nCoV updates, actions undertaken, the EREID Action Plan and Budget, review of the referral flow, the roles of the BHERTs, and an agreement on the inter-agency roles and functions on the prevention of 2019 nCoV in Catanduanes.
Also last week, the acting governor ordered the activation of the Barangay Bantay Dagat and the Barangay Health Emergency Response Team (BHERT) in all 315 villages to assist in the anti-nCoV campaign.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health Center for Health Development – Bicol has reiterated that based on the 2019-nCoV case tracker from DOH Central dated February 7, 2020, 12 noon, there is no confirmed case of the 2019-nCoV ARD and no Persons Under Investigation (PUIs) in Bicol Region.
It said that while there are two (2) admitted patients under observation at the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital in Albay, any official announcement on the matter will come from the DOH Central Office.
Dr. Annalynda Bellen, Infectious Disease Specialist of BRTTH said that the public must only refer to DOH or WHO on information regarding 2019-nCoV ARD.
“Facebook is one of the main sources of fake news, kung gusto natin information, go to DOH, WHO, wag kumuha sa Facebook.” Dr. Bellen said.
“Whether PUI or hindi, it does not matter, wala naman mangyayari satin dito. It is influenza season, flu season, kahit hindi nCoV, we must always practice prevention like personal hygiene or hand hygiene.” Dr. Bellen added.
On the other hand, Dr. Ernie Vera stated that DOH Bicol has no reason to hide any information from the public and that it recognizes the right of the public to correct information.
“Masabi po kamo na nagtatago ang DOH ki data, nagtatago ki information. We don’t have any reason for that. Ang purpose po kaini (centralized information) is we don’t want to release any information na macreate ning misinformation. Kaya po tigacentralized ini (data), para po wara ibang maling interpretation sa sinasabi kan Department of Health.” Dr. Vera stated.
Regardless of whether there is or there are confirmed cases or PUIs, the public is strictly advised to take precautionary measures against 2019-nCoV – always practice hand hygiene, observe proper cough etiquette, maintain distance and cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the crook of your elbow, avoid crowded places or maintain a one-meter distance from people manifesting respiratory illness, avoid touching your nose and mouth, and use face mask if you have cough and colds, or if you are a health care worker dealing with patients manifesting respiratory illness.
DOH CHD – Bicol sought the cooperation of everyone in preventing the novel coronavirus in the region, and asks the public to refrain from sharing and posting information about the 2019-nCoV coming from unofficial sources.