Aquino orders DOH to ensure public safety vs. Zika virus
President Benigno S. Aquino III views the exhibits after addressing the 65th Session of the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Committee for the Western Pacific at the Reception Hall of the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City on Monday (October 13). The Philippines’ hosting of the 65th Session is historically significant considering that after a quarter of a century, another Aquino is addressing the regional committee as President of the Philippines. (MNS photo)
MANILA (Mabuhay) – President Benigno Aquino III has instructed the Department of Health (DOH) to ensure public safety as much as it can amid the scramble of several countries to prevent the spread of the Zika virus that is associated with severe birth defects.
“The DOH has been instructed by the President to [study] this matter and to [ensure] public safety as much as possible,” Presidential Communications Undersecretary Manolo Quezon III said in an interview on state-run dzRB radio on Saturday.
Quezon also allayed public fear of the disease saying that the virus is not easily transmittable, and that the DOH is already relatively prepared for the virus should it spread to the country.
“Sa aking kaalaman at sa pagkakaintindi ko sa mga briefer at sa mga impormasyon tungkol sa virus na ito, it is not that easily transmittable.
“Pangalawa, ang sa aking pagkakaintindi ng mga advisories ng DOH, ang mga precautions dito ay very similar sa precautions against dengue. In other words, ang [pagtuunan] natin dito ‘yung mosquito na nagdadala ng virus na ito,” Quezon said.
DOH spokesperson Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy announced on Friday that the Philippines remains free of the Zika virus.
While a case was documented in Cebu City in 2012, no other Zika case has since been reported, he added.
“We don’t want to be alarmist, but it is not enough that people become aware of what is happening. We should always be on guard because it’s happening in other countries and it can also happen here,” Lee Suy told reporters.
Quezon said each one has a role to play to keep the country free from the Zika virus.
“It begins sa sarili nating mga bahay at kapaligiran to make sure na walang mga stagnant water… Second, kung mayroon tayong nakikitang outbreak of dengue or similar diseases, to get in touch with your barangay health center,” he said.
Tropical Southeast Asian countries said on Friday that they were bracing for Zika virus, with Malaysia saying it could “spread quickly” if introduced, but Thailand appeared to be bucking the trend with just a handful of cases a year.
This was after the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the virus was “spreading explosively” and could infect as many as four million people in the Americas.
Zika is linked to severe birth defects including babies born with abnormally small heads, is wreaking havoc in Brazil where the government has deployed more than 200,000 troops to eradicate mosquitoes.
The WHO has issued basic facts and prevention measures against the virus. (MNS)