Iloilo governor sees downtrend in COVID-19 cases

Joseph B.A. Marzan
Iloilo governor sees downtrend in COVID-19 cases

NEW THREAT. Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. explains his Alert Level 5 Kontra Dengue program during a press conference on February 3, 2022.

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Iloilo province anticipates an easing of the pandemic but has to grapple now with rising dengue cases

ILOILO CITY, Philippines – Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. said on Thursday, February 3 that he expects COVID-19 cases in the province to continue dropping following the downtrend in Metro Manila cases.

“We have 265 [new cases on February 2]. This has gone down from levels of 400 plus and 300 plus, and I think the next figure is even lower,” Defensor said during a press conference. 

“[Based on] Metro Manila’s experience, it has started to come down, and I think that can happen here,” he said.

Defensor also expects that the Alert Level system in the country will eventually be scrapped, citing the weakened potency of the SARS-CoV-2 variants.

“Eventually you have to remove [the Alert Level system]. After two years, we’ve looked at the behavior of the virus. Right now, we have a variant that is less potent, [but still] contagious. I don’t know if that is correct, but that is what we see with the experience of other countries and local government units,” he explained. 

“We have to adjust our disease and control prevention regimes. It will become endemic, so we have to start living with it,” he added.

Despite Defensor’s discussion of a downtrend, the 265 new cases on Wednesday, February 2, were more than a hundred cases higher than the 162 recorded on Tuesday, February 1, but lower than 294 on Monday, January 31, and 384 on Sunday, January 30.

The Department of Health (DOH)-Western Visayas’ February 2 data showed the province has a total of 39,789 confirmed COVID-19 cases.

‘Alert Level 5 Kontra Dengue’

Defensor announced he will soon issue a new executive order to tackle an alarming rise in dengue cases in the province.

The governor called the stepped-up campaign as Alert Level 5 Kontra Dengue, combining the COVID-19 Alert Level system and the 4S strategy against the mosquito-borne virus.

The 4S strategy includes search-and-destroy operations on mosquito breeding sites, securing self-protection, seeking early consultation, and supporting communities by spraying only in hotspot areas.

It is based on DOH Administrative Order No. 2018-0021, the national strategy against dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases like chinkungunya and zika.

Limpyo Iloilo, the provincial government’s flagship cleaning program every third Saturday of the month, is expected to be included in the anti-dengue program.

The governor said he expects a surge because dengue cases in the province rise every three years.

“The last surge was in 2019, and looking back, it started slowly, beginning the first quarter, and started to really surge in July of 2019. So, we want to prepare for dengue together with our mayors,” the governor said.

The provincial health data on dengue as of January 29 showed 29 dengue cases – more than half of the overall total in 2021 (40).

Officials expect cases to equal or even exceed the 2020 total of 151.

The governor said the province recorded three new dengue cases on Wednesday. –

Joseph B.A. Marzan is a Visayas-based journalist from Iloilo City and is a recipient of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.

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