City gov’t awaits DOH Nipah virus advisory

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas said that the city government has not yet implemented any preventive measures against the Nipah virus, which has been identified in India, as the Department of Health (DOH) has not issued any advisory regarding it.

“Waay pa ta ka preparar sina. Wala pa man ka release ang DOH sang advisory,” he said on Monday.

The Nipah virus has killed two in India’s southern state of Kerala.

Treñas, however, noted that the city has its molecular diagnostic laboratory for COVID-19 testing, which he proposes should be repurposed.

“Ang atun may ara kita nga testing facilities pero […] we need to repurpose that already,” he said, stressing that the COVID-19 cases in the city are already decreasing.

The City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit of the City Health Office reported that as of September 24, the city has no confirmed COVID-19 case.

Treñas suggested converting these facilities into clinical laboratories and diagnostic centers to conduct tests for various viruses and perform other medical assessments, such as urinalysis, blood testing, and screening for diseases like tuberculosis and HIV, among others.

“Aside sa COVID, kinahanglan ma test na kita sa iban kay kanugon sang aton facility […] Ang gwa niya clinical laboratory na. Ara na ang infrastructure so dyutay na lang gid da siguro nga repurposing,” he said.

Meanwhile, the DOH has reported no new cases of Henipavirus infection or the Nipah virus in the country since 2014.

The Nipah virus is usually transmitted to humans from animals, between humans, or through contaminated food.

Its symptoms include fever, headache with changes in sensorium, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms can also include respiratory infection, vomiting, and sometimes even seizures and brain inflammation which could lead to coma.

The Nipah virus has a mortality rate of 40 to 70 percent and has no known vaccine.

Infectious diseases doctor Rontgene Solante in an interview over TeleRadyo Serbisyo said the virus is unlikely to reach the country since it is already “a controlled outbreak” in India.