MANILA — The Department of Health on Friday said dengue cases in the Philippines dropped by 76% in 2020 compared to the same period last year.
During a virtual briefing, Dr. Noni Evangelista, National Aedes-borne Viral Diseases Prevention and Control Program of the DOH, said other diseases such as leptospirosis also saw a significant decrease in cases.
It could be recalled that the Philippines declared a dengue outbreak last year when dengue cases reached 430,282. However, cases went down to just 59,675 from January to August 15 of this year. This is significantly lower than previously recorded when dengue cases in the Philippines ranged from 150,000 to more than 200,000 cases per year.
Evangelista said the case fatality rate for dengue also stayed below 1 percent.
“Ibig sabihin even though nakapagtala tayo ng maraming kaso, namama-manage naman sya ng maayos,” she said.
(It means that while we recorded many cases, we are able to manage them properly.)
Evangelista said the number of dengue cases decreased during the rainy months, when it is expected to hit its peak.
But for this year, the trend is decreasing, she added.
Asked if the decrease in dengue and other cases was due to the COVID-19 lockdown, Evangelista said the DOH attributes it instead to the strengthening of its program.
She also acknowledged the changes in behavior brought about by the pandemic.
“This can be attributed to the increased health awareness of Filipinos,” she said.
Asked if it was possible that dengue cases are just “under the radar” due to the limitations brought about by the lockdown, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said she does not think parents would refrain from bringing their children to the hospital when they are already sick.
“DOH is prepared,” she said. “Para mapaigting namin ang preventive side, para hindi tayo magkaroon ng additional na worry.”
(So we can intensify the preventive side, so we don’t have additional worries.)
Vergeire also assured the public there is no chance that dengue patients, who may exhibit symptoms similar to COVID-19, would be placed under a COVID ward while waiting for their test results.