PREVENTIVE MEASURE. Dr. Thea Cajulao (3rd from left), infectious disease specialist at the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center and a nurse demonstrate the proper use of the surgical mask to avoid contamination. Looking on are Baguio Health Services Office (HSO) chief, Dr. Rowena Galpo (leftmost), Dr. Donnabel Tubera-Panes of the HSO during a press conference on Wednesday at the regional office of the Department of Health in Baguio city. (PNA photo by Jephryll Jallen Epler)

BAGUIO CITY— The Department of Health-Cordillera Administrative Region (DOH-CAR) has assured that major hospitals in the region are ready to accept patients suspected of contracting the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), an official said on Wednesday.

In a press conference, Dr. Jennifer-Joyce Pira, DOH-CAR’s Infectious Disease Cluster head, said the SLU Hospital of the Sacred Heart, Notre Dame de Chartres Hospitals, Pines City Doctors Hospital, and the biggest government run-hospital, Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC), are equipped with facilities to extract samples from suspected nCoV carriers.

The Far North Luzon General Hospital and Training Center in Luna, Apayao and the Conner District hospital in Conner town are also ready for such patients, Pira said.

She said these hospitals have put up isolation rooms either at the emergency rooms or adjacent it. There are also transport ambulances, supplies including personal preventive equipment (PPE).

“We have requested additional supplies like N95 masks as ours is only good for two weeks, assuming we have three cases a day,” Pira said.

Pira said they will be distributing copies of the checklist and monitoring sheet of facilities, equipment, supplies, personnel, mobility to all the hospitals in the region.

Dr. Janice Bugtong, a DOH-CAR director, said all health facilities in the region have been ordered to activate their Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Disease (EREID) fast lanes, ensure availability of isolation rooms, re-activation of their referral system and surveillance for influenza-like-illness.

Meanwhile, Dr. Rowena Galpo, Baguio City Health Services Office chief, said they are ready to handle health alert situations, having handled the meningococcemia in 2005.

“We have a system already on how to handle it… the World Health Organization helped us and we continue to update it,” Galpo said.

She said through the years, health workers have been provided with training on the protocols, case management, communication plan and even on obtaining samples.

Galpo also advised the public to stay home if they are sick in light of the expected influx of tourists starting Feb. 1 for the opening of the Panagbenga or Baguio Flower Festival. The festivities will last until the first week of March.

From Feb. 13 to 16, The Philippine Military Academy Alumni homecoming will be held while the Cordillera Administrative Region Athletic Association will be staged from Feb. 16 to 21 followed by the grand street dancing parade and float parade on Feb. 29 and March 1, respectively.

Protecting one’s self

Health officials said the n-CoV and other respiratory infections are avoidable by observing health and sanitation measures.

Using the acronym W.U.H.A.N, Bugtong said: “Wash hands often, Use mask properly and when necessary. Have your temperature checked every day, Avoid large crowds and Never touch your face with unclean hands.”

Dr. Thea Cajulao, BGHMC infectious disease specialist, said the wearing of face masks can help not only to avoid contracting the 2019 n-CoV but even ordinary cough and colds.

The health officials said keeping the immune system high by having enough sleep, taking in balanced and healthy and having physical exercise are good preventive measures.

The DOH-CAR has sent blood samples of a Chinese national who arrived in the region who has a cough to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine for testing.

The Chinese national, who has not traveled to Wuha, China where the n-CoV reportedly originated, is under house quarantine for 14 days, along with his two roommates, pending the result of the test, the DOH-CAR said.

The DOH-CAR assured that the region still remains free of the 2019-nCoV. (With reports from Corwin Lucas Golonan and Jephryll Jallen Epler, OJT/ PNA)