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6 more Zika cases discovered – DOH

The Department of Health (DOH) announced yesterday it has detected six more new confirmed Zika virus cases in the country.

Dr. Eric Tayag, DOH spokesman, disclosed that apart from the three Zika patients reported earlier in Iloilo City, there are four more cases in the same city; one new case in Cebu City; and another case in Region 4-A or Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon).

“All mentioned cases had no history of travel to other countries within a month preceding onset of illness. All presented with skin rashes accompanied by joint pains or fever conjunctivitis and are expected to have recovered by this time,” Tayag said during a press conference in DOH’s main office in Manila yesterday.

This brings the total number of recorded local cases of Zika virus since 2012 to 14. Nine of these incidents were from this year.

ILOILO CASES

DOH sent a team to Iloilo to confirm if the four new cases of Zika are related to the three previous cases which it recorded there earlier this month.

Based on DOH’s initial report, this is unlikely since the new incidents are 10 kilometers away from the index cases in Iloilo. “I will go there to confirm this,” Tayag said.

Despite the additional cases in Iloilo, Tayag stressed there is no need to issue a travel advisory in the province.

“We did not recommend that (travel advisory). What we have recommended is for pregnant women to ask their doctors for any instruction regarding their current pregnancy especially those living in affected areas,” Tayag said.

Furthermore, since the Zika-afflicted patients in Iloilo are already on their way to recovery, Tayag said they could declare the province as Zika-free if it will no longer report any new case of the disease in the next 45 days.

BETTER DETECTION

Meanwhile, World Health Organization (WHO) Country Representative Gundo Weiler lauded the DOH for its intensified screening measures against Zika virus.

He commented this was not the case previously, when the screening for suspected Zika patients were “restricted.” “If you will remember in the beginning of the year that a number of reports were coming out of people visiting the Philippines were tested (positive) when they went home to their home countries. We did not have local confirmed testing in the Philippines,” Weiler said.

“That situation has now changed and we have seen more people being tested and coming forward for testing and It think we will see as a result… we will get a better understanding of what the real situation is,” he added.

Tayag said the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) is now acquiring an additional 8,000 Zika test kits worth P48 million. This will augment RITM’s existing 1,000 Zika test kits.