By Calvin Cordova
CEBU CITY — The Department of Health (DOH) in Central Visayas has warned that an El Niño episode could cause dengue cases to spike.
DOH’s Center for Health Development urged the public to always keep the households clean and free from breeding sites of dengue-carrying mosquitoes.
“The higher temperature could increase the maturation rate of the virus itself,” said Dr. Shelbay Blanco, head of the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU).
Blanco said the feeding behavior of mosquitoes changes when the temperature rises.
“Before, dengue cases rise during rainy season only. But now, we are recording dengue cases all year long,” Blanco said.
In the latest DOH tally, Central Visayas has the biggest number of dengue cases in the country with 4,505 and 29 deaths.
Blanco said the regional DOH has activated its Dengue Task Force to help monitor and prevent dengue in barangays.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) office in Central Visayas has also taken steps to prepare for El Niño by creating quick reaction teams that will check areas that may be affected.
The teams will be closely coordinating with Municipal Agriculture Officers (MAOs) to monitor pest infestation, said DA Regional Director Salvador Diputado.
In Cebu, the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) is preparing for the possible effects of the dry spell by developing four wells in separate areas.
The MCWD said 69 percent of the water supply in Metro Cebu comes from groundwater sources, which is not directly affected by the shortage of rainfall.
It is the surface water resources, which supply the district’s northern and southern sectors that are vulnerable.
In a statement, MCWD said the surface water sources contribute 74,000 cubic meters (cu. m.) per day or 31 percent of the average daily production of 238,000 cu. m. per day.
The bulk of the supply comes from the Luyang River in Carmen at 35,000 cu. m. per day, while the supply from the Jaclupan Facility is at 33,000 cu. m. per day. Around 6,000 cu. m. per day is expected to be lost if the Buhisan Dam’s water level dips due to the dry spell.
MCWD is also exploring over 30 wells in the service area—some privately owned and others owned by the government.
Some barangays in Carmen town are already feeling the effects of El Niño.
According to the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO), 21 barangays in Carmen are already having water supply problems.