Power outage due to Typhoon Rolly may affect vaccines, COVID test kits and samples

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 02 2020 03:58 PM | Updated as of Nov 02 2020 06:16 PM

Boys lift downed power lines in exchange for coins as fallen electrical posts render a road impassable to large vehicles in San Fernando, Camarines Sur, a day after Typhoon Rolly battered the area. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Power outages caused by this year's strongest storm in the country might affect the efficacy of vaccines and coronavirus testing paraphernalia, which need to be frozen, the health department said Monday.

Rolly (international name: GONI), a super typhoon at its peak, killed at least 16 people as it caused flooding and landslides, destroyed houses, and toppled power lines in the hardest-hit areas where hundreds of thousands fled their homes over the weekend. 

"May mga potential na cold chain management na problema para sa ating bakuna, COVID-19 test kits at specimens kung magtatagal ang pagbalik ng kuryente," Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a Laging Handa press briefing. 

(There are potential cold chain management problems for our vaccines, COVID-19 test kits and specimens if it will take long to restore electricity.)

"Ako'y nanawagan sa Department of Energy na sana po, bigyan prayoridad ang pagbabalik kaagaran ng electrical supply sa mga apektadong lugar, lalo't may parating na namang isa pang bagyo," he added. 

(I am asking the Department of Energy to prioritize restoring the electrical supply in affected areas, especially since another storm is coming.) 

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The new weather disturbance, Siony (international name: ATSANI), which entered the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) on Sunday morning just hours after Rolly hit land in the Bicol Region, may reach severe tropical storm category and make landfall this week, the state weather bureau said.

Rolly, meanwhile, is already on its way out of the PAR.

Power was still out in the entire Bicol region, Energy Undersecretary Alex Lopez said in the same press briefing held before noon Monday.

Six power plants in Luzon went on emergency shutdown to avoid typhoon damage and disconnection from the power grid, while 3 others are undergoing restoration, he said. 

All power players are "doing everything to restore and put the power back," added Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi. 

The Philippines has recorded a total of 385,400 confirmed COVID-19 cases, as of Monday, of which, 29,301, or 7.6 percent, are active.