MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Health (DOH) has sent 6 medical teams to Albay province due to fears of an outbreak of infectious diseases in temporary shelters cramped with nearly 50,000 residents from Mayon Volcano's danger zones.
Dr. Eric Tayag, chief of DOH's National Epidemiology Center, said the department is ready to deploy more medical teams to the calamity-stricken province should the need arises.
"There will be more. This is the first batch. We want to be ahead of the potential hazards and problems so that those affected in Albay will not worry about health service they require if there is imminent danger," Tayag told ANC in an interview.
Tayag said health officers have started receiving complaints of common colds and difficulty in breathing during check ups. He said the common colds could have been brought by the northeast monsoon or due to the ashfall from Mayon Volcano.
The DOH has placed its units in Albay on blue alert status, which means that all medical personnel will be on duty 24 hours a day.
All hospitals and community health units have been advised to prepare for a possible influx of patients.
Tayag said the DOH will raise the alert status to red should there be more than 50 casualties in one area and if hospitals are unable to cope with the needs of the people.
The Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council of Albay has already evacuated nearly 9,500 families from villages located inside the 6-kilometer to 8-kilometer danger zones of the volcano.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said in its 7 a.m. Tuesday bulletin that the volcano has become more intense with stronger volcanic earthquakes recorded for the past 24 hours.
The Phivolcs said the volcano's sulfur dioxide emission rate remained very high, measuring to an average of 6,529 tons per day. -- Report from ANC