THE Department of Health (DOH) called on the public to report suspected cases of Zika as the disease has been officially classified as category one, joining the likes of the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS – CoV) and Ebola virus.
Zika’s inclusion in the response system means that any suspected case of the disease should be reported within 24 hours. All samples collected shall be sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).
Health Secretary Janette Loreto- Garin said all reported cases will be tested and verified.
“But we reiterate these are not all Zika cases. Each will go through a process of verification and validation,” Garin said.
Irma Asuncion, Director of the department’s Epidemiology Bureau, said those who have fever, conjunctivitis, skin rash, headache, myalgia, malaise, joint pains, retro orbital pain and have traveled to areas with reported Zika cases should report to the DoH.
The DOH denied reports that cases of microcephaly have increased.
“We would like to clarify the allegations that there is an increase in incident of microcephaly, that there is tripling or doubling of [cases]at Fabella hospital and other government hospitals within Luzon,” Garin said.
“Microcephaly has many causes, most of them remains unknown, but if there are cases of microcephaly, it is not alarming. That is why we are calling on the public to report Zica cases, so hat we can document them,” she added.
The DOH has created a national action plan against Zika, which includes four strategies — surveillance and clinical management, vector control, management of potential impact on pregnant women and health promotion.
Eloi Yao, public information officer of the World Health Organization (WHO) Western Pacific Region, said the agency’s Zika Strategic Response Framework and Joint Operations Plan is in the works.
The framework consists mainly of three parts – surveillance, response and research.
“We mainly focus on community engagement in providing accurate information on miscommunication. As you know, the level of anxiety is very high so the goal is to reduce that anxiety and also address potential stigma that may arise from the outbreak,” Yao said.
Garin said the DOH has tested 827 suspected Zika cases but all turned out to be negative.
She said cleanliness remains the key to prevention, as he urged the public to clean up all possible breeding grounds on mosquitoes.