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DOH: Pertussis cases continue to rise

MANILA, Philippines —  Despite intensified immunization, pertussis or whooping cough cases nationwide continue to increase, according to the Department of Health (DOH).

As of March 23, the DOH has recorded 862 pertussis cases, including 49 deaths since the start of the year.

The cases recorded in the past three months are 30 percent higher than cases during the same period a year ago.

The DOH is not seeing an instant decline in pertussis cases.

“The effects of increasing immunization efforts to stem the outbreak may not be seen in the data until four to six weeks after they are started,” the DOH said in a statement Tuesday.

The five regions reporting the most number of cases are Mimaropa (187), National Capital Region (158), Central Luzon (132), Central Visayas (121) and Western Visayas (72).

Children aged below five accounted for 79 percent of the total cases.

About 66 percent of these children were either unvaccinated or did not know their vaccination history.

At this time, the DOH Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Units are in constant coordination with provincial, city and municipal health offices to provide scientific advice.

“We are helping LGUs move to break transmission and protect children. Vaccines are available and more have been ordered,” said Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa.

The DOH advised the public to immediately seek medical treatment when infected and not to self-medicate.

In a radio interview, Health Undersecretary Eric Tayag said pertussis cases are still increasing while vaccines against the infection are getting depleted.

Tayag said the DOH is still awaiting vaccines procured from the UN Children’s Fund to add to the almost exhausted vaccine supply in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, the local government of Malabon urged residents to observe health protocols to prevent the spread of pertussis.

Two pertussis cases have been recorded in the city since January, city administrator Alexander Rosete said.

Barangay health centers must ensure that all eligible children are fully vaccinated with three doses, city health officer Bernadette Bordador said.

In Bulacan, there are four confirmed pertussis cases and one death as of Monday.

A two-month-old