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Measles outbreaks in 4 more regions

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Inquirer.net – The Department of Health (DOH) declared measles outbreaks in four more regions—Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Western and Eastern Visayas—which had reported spikes in the number of cases and 18 deaths last month.

A day earlier it declared an outbreak in the National Capital Region where 58 deaths were recorded as of Thursday at San Lazaro Hospital, according to a spokesperson.

Calabarzon reported 575 cases and nine deaths last month; Central Luzon had 192 cases and four deaths; Western Visayas had 104 cases and three deaths and Central Visayas had 71 cases and one death, according to the DOH Epidemiology Bureau.

The figures show a steep rise in the number of measles cases from last year when Calabarzon had 21, Central Luzon had 32, Western Visayas had 16 and Central Visayas had two. The regions reported no measles deaths in January last year.

Dengvaxia scare blamed

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the rise in infections was caused by a drop in vaccinations triggered by the Dengvaxia scare, which followed the halt of the massive anti-dengue immunization campaign that used the vaccine developed by the French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur.

Sanofi revealed in November 2017 that people who were inoculated with Dengvaxia were at risk of severe dengue if they had not been earlier infected with the mosquito-borne virus.

The Dengvaxia fiasco and the alleged deaths of children caused by the vaccine fueled the scare and prompted charges of neglect, corruption and plunder against Duque and officials of the previous administration, including former President Benigno Aquino III, from Public Attorney’s Office chief Persida Acosta.

“The DOH has been the collateral damage here,” Duque told the Inquirer. “Please help us inform the public that vaccinations are safe.”

The San Lazaro spokesperson, Dr. Ferdinand de Guzman, said most of the 58 who had died at the hospital from Jan. 1 to Feb. 6 were children under 5 years old.

Sick person can infect 18

Wilda Silva, director of the DOH’s immunization program, said the virus that caused the respiratory disease was highly contagious and an ill person could quickly infect 18 more.

“So if the virus spreads fast, we have to act faster,” Silva said in an interview.

Duque suggested that babies be vaccinated as early as 6 months old when antibodies against measles in their mother’s milk started to wane.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said President Duterte ordered Duque on Wednesday to conduct a “vigorous” campaign to promote “complete immunization” of children.

Panelo said Acosta’s claims that some children had died due to their Dengvaxia inoculation was not discussed during the Cabinet meeting where Mr. Duterte issued the order.

Defending PAO chief

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Thursday defended Acosta, saying she was “just doing her job and certainly does not intend to scare the public about the possible negative effects of vaccination in general.”

Speaking to reporters about the outbreak earlier, Vice President Leni Robredo urged government officials and the public to refrain from making further irresponsible comments on vaccines.

“Our numbers when it comes to addressing measles had been good and we were already on our way to eradication,” she said. “But because of irresponsible accusations, we are putting the lives of children at risk.”

Dr. Jessie Fantone, head epidemiologist for Central Luzon, said those who died in the region were not vaccinated despite the availability of the anti-measles vaccines at the regional health office.

According to Fantone, there were 1,562 measles cases in the region for the entire 2018 but 442 cases, nearly a third of last year’s total, were recorded in just the first month of the year. The number was more than what was reported by the DOH in Manila.

Fatalities mostly babies

The DOH office in Eastern Visayas, which has not declared an outbreak, reported eight measles deaths just this week and most of the fatalities were babies 6 monts to 9 months old.

The region had at least 241 cases in the first month this year compared to only two measles cases with no death  during the same period in 2018.

In Central Visayas, health authorities reported 96 measles cases with one death from Jan. 1 to Feb. 1, up 2,300 percent from the four cases in the same period last year.

Jaime Bernadas, DOH regional director, said a measles outbreak was declared as early as August last year. —WITH REPORTS FROM CHRISTINE O. AVENDAÑO, TONETTE OREJAS, YOLANDA SOTELO, GABRIEL CARDINOZA, GREG REFRACCION, JOEY A. GABIETA AND NESTLE SEMILLA

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15 public schools in Pampanga to undergo rehab works

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CLARK FREEPORT, Pampanga—A total of 15 public schools in Porac town in the province will undergo some improvement works that will make them conducive to students’ learning and wellbeing.

The move is through the support of the Clark Development Corporation (CDC) as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) program aimed at improving the educational facilities for students in its neighbor communities.

The state-run firm has donated various construction materials that include paints, hollow blocks, cement, lumber, roofing, and steel bars, among others.

CDC president and CEO Noel F. Manankil, in a statement on Wednesday said the donated materials were identified based on the needs of each school as evaluated by the personnel of the CDC–External Affairs Division.

Among the beneficiaries of the project are Salu Elementary School, Balubad Elementary School, Jalung Elementary School, Pulung Santol Elementary School, Palat Elementary School, Pias Elementary School, Pio Elementary School, Mancatian Elementary School and Pulung Santol High School.

Likewise, elementary schools in Planas, Mitla, Sepung Bulaun, Katutubo and Sapang Uwak villages and at Camias Resettlement in Porac also received the same assistance from CDC.

Manankil said the said schools comprise the first batch of recipients under the project.

“We have the primary moral obligation to support our local government units (LGUs) and we have a lot of programs in CDC that we want them to be involved,” he said.

He added that the state-owned firm, together with its locator companies, will create more strategic and relevant programs for communities especially in terms of education.

“We have a high priority for education because we believe that it is what actually equalized everybody in terms of their social status and in Clark, we want everybody to get involved, come up together and plan to have more relevant and more strategic CSR,” Manankil said. (PNA)

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7 dead in Lubao, Pampanga multi-vehicle accident

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The start of the new year is bleak for the relatives of the seven people who died in a multi-vehicle accident that occurred in Lubao, Pampanga on Wednesday afternoon.

One of the fatalities, Marie Grace David, was on her way from celebrating the New Year with her 12-year-old child, who was injured.

Another fatality was identified as Rowel Flores, 32. Like David, he was on her way home from Dau where he celebrated the New Year. He left behind two children.

Linette Valite, 18, another fatality, meanwhile was on her way to meet her boyfriend.

The rest of the fatalities were identified as Princess Quinto, Alex Razheed Nilayan, John Raven Astrero, and Mary Grace Castro.

Nine others were hurt in the accident, seven of them confined at Pampanga Medical Specialist Hospital and two others at Jose B. Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital in San Fernando, Pampanga.

Footage from CCTV showed a pickup that was about to turn to the main road from Jasa Road. The passenger jeep carrying the victims, which cannot be seen in the video, collided with the pickup that was thrown toward the opposite lane where it was hit by an oncoming truck.

The passenger jeep was a total wreck.

A rescue operation was immediately implemented.

The driver of the pickup truck, 68-year-old Alexander Domingo, is facing charges for reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide, physical injuries and damage to properties. He is now detained at the Lubao Municipal Police Station. — Vonne Aquino/BAP/KBK, GMA News

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2020 Public Holidays

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The regular holidays are:

January 1, 2020, Wednesday – New Year’s Day
April 9, 2020, Thursday – Araw ng Kagitingan
April 9, 2020 – Maundy Thursday
April 10, 2020 – Good Friday
May 1, 2020, Friday – Labor Day
June 12, 2020, Friday – Independence Day
August 31, 2020, last Monday of August – National Heroes’ Day
November 30, 2020, Monday – Bonifacio Day
December 25, 2020, Friday – Christmas Day
December 30, 2020, Wednesday – Rizal Day

Special non-working days:

January 25, 2020, Saturday – Chinese New Year
February 25, 2020, Tuesday – EDSA Revolution Anniversary
April 11, 2020 – Black Saturday
August 21, 2020, Friday – Ninoy Aquino Day
November 1, 2020, Sunday – All Saints’ Day
December 8, 2020, Tuesday – Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary
December 31, 2020, Thursday – last day of the year

Additional special non-working holidays:

November 2, 2020, Monday
December 24, 2020, Thursday

Malacañang will issue proclamations to declare national holidays for Eid’l Fitr and Eid’l Adha after the approximate dates of the Islamic holidays have been determined.

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