DOH: Measures in place vs. possible hike in respiratory illnesses

MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday said measures are in place against possible increase of respiratory illness cases nationwide.

The agency made the statement following reports on the uptick of respiratory illnesses in northern China.

The DOH reiterated that there is no need for alarm as the government prioritizes the safety of Filipinos through "vigilant" surveillance and information dissemination.

“At present, continued surveillance and reporting of influenza-like illnesses (ILI) in the country indicate that cases have started to plateau. Nonetheless, the EB [Epidemiology Bureau]shall continue to strengthen ILI surveillance in coordination with the WHO [World Health Organization] and China,” the DOH said in a statement.

The WHO has been monitoring the increase in influenza-like illnesses in China since mid-October.

It noted reports from the media and the International Society for Infectious Diseases of clusters of undiagnosed pneumonia in children’s hospitals in select areas in China this month.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) and Beijing Children’s Hospital have clarified that the increase in consultations and admissions were “within the expected levels based on historical data and not unusual given the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions”.

They attributed the case increases to mycoplasma pneumoniae (a common bacterial infection which typically affects young children), respiratory syncytial virus, adenovirus, and influenza.

The China CDC added that no changes in the disease presentation and no unusual or new pathogens have been detected.

The WHO has recommended general preventive measures against respiratory diseases must be observed.

To date, no specific measures for travellers and border control were recommended by the WHO.

The DOH has urged the public, especially the children and the elderly to stay vigilant and to observe layers of protection — voluntary masking, regular handwashing, isolating when ill, ensuring adequate ventilation and getting vaccinated — to avoid respiratory illnesses. (PNA)