By Analou De Vera
Dengue cases across the country continue to surge as the Department of Health (DOH) on Friday said that it has already recorded over 160,000 cases of the mosquito-borne illness.
“We already have 167,606 cases and as of July, we already have 10 regions that are having cases beyond the epidemic threshold,” Health Undersecretary Rolando Enrique Domingo told reporters.
“This is one of the highest. First time that we actually declared a dengue national epidemic. The highest in the last five years,” he added.
The DOH declared a national dengue epidemic last August 6, after more than 140,000 dengue cases were recorded this year. As of July, a total; of 146,062 dengue cases were recorded, or 98 percent higher than the dengue cases recorded on the same period last year.
A total of 661 deaths have already been recorded, the DOH said.
The regions that are “beyond the epidemic threshold” are Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Soccsksargen, and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
“Ang ating national epidemic declaration is at force and of course we are working– our regional offices natin are working with other agencies ng gobyerrno para lang siguraduin ang ating efforts to curb para mabawasan ang kaso ng dengue (The national epidemic declaration is at force and of course, our regional offices are working with other government agencies to ensure that our efforts are working to curb the increasing number of dengue cases),” he said.
Meanwhile, the health official said that a thorough study should first be done on to the proposal to return the Dengvaxia vaccine in the market.
“At this time hindi sya pwedeng dalin sa Pilipinas or gamitin dito sa Pilipinas. [At this time, it cannot be brought or be used here in the Philippines],” said Domingo.
“At this time, as an immunization program for mass immunization, we’re really not entertaining that,” he added.
“Dadaanin naman ito sa masusing pag-aaral. Unang-una nga yung issue sa revocation ng CPR (Certificate of Product Registration), pangalawa kung gagamitin man sya sa immunization later: mukhang marami pa tayong scientific evidence na tingnan at talagang suriin ng husto bago magkaroon ng mga decision. (A thorough study will be done; first on the issue of the revocation of the Certificate of Product Registration; second, if it will be used for immunization later on. We have to look and study several scientific evidences before we come up with a decision),” he said.
On Thursday, President Duterte said that he is open for the possible return of Dengvaxia vaccine amid the increasing number of dengue cases in the country. Prior to this, a group of doctors also proposed the lifting of the ban on the controversial vaccine.