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‘No surge in pertussis hospital admissions’

MANILA, Philippines — There was only a slight uptick in hospital admissions due to pertussis despite the reported increase in cases in the country, the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines Inc. (PHAPI) reported yesterday.

“There is a slight increase in admissions, but not really a surge in cases,” PHAPI president Jose Rene de Grano said in an interview.

“Unless the symptoms are serious, patients just avail themselves of antibiotics or anti-cough medications and stay at home,” De Grano said.

He said the cost of hospitalization is keeping patients from being treated in hospitals.

Latest data from the Department of Health (DOH) showed that 28 new pertussis cases were recorded from March 10 to 16, bringing the total to 568 since January.

Forty deaths due to pertussis have been reported. The total number of cases during the same period last year was only 26, making this year’s tally 20 times higher.

The DOH said the increase in pertussis cases was due to lack of routine immunization, especially among children, during the COVID pandemic.

The department said it acquired three million pentavalent vaccine doses that are arriving “at the soonest possible time.”

Pentavalent vaccines protect children not only against pertussis, but also against diphtheria, tetanus, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenza type B.

Pertussis is a respiratory disease that can be transmitted through coughing or sneezing.

Antibiotics can treat pertussis and vaccines can help prevent infection.

Meanwhile, De Grano said there are fewer hospital admissions due to measles compared to pertussis.

The DOH said more than 2,600 measles cases have been recorded in the country since September.

More than half of the cases were recorded in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, where a measles outbreak was recently declared.

Measles is highly contagious. It spreads from infected individuals through the air, especially through coughing or sneezing.

The disease affects all age groups, but is more common among children.