COVID-19 FREE. The Department of Health (DOH) 8 (Eastern Visayas) is under code white alert, ready to respond to a possible outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). The DOH-8 on Friday (Feb. 14, 2020) said the region remains free of the virus. (PNA photo by Gerico Sabalza)

TACLOBAN CITY — The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday said Eastern Visayas is still free from the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

In a press statement sent to reporters, DOH 8 (Eastern Visayas) Director Minerva Molon said all 16 suspected carriers have been cleared — 14 have been discharged after testing negative for the virus and two were completing the mandatory 14-day isolation period with no flu-like symptoms.

“As of Friday, we have zero suspected carriers of the Covid-19. We do not have any admission of (any) patient under investigation (PUI), but we will not let our guards down and continue our advocacy for a healthy Region 8,” Molon said.

She said if the PUIs have been cleared, those persons who had close contact with them, categorized as persons under monitoring who were advised to self-quarantine, are also cleared of the virus.

Molon said an intensified health education campaign is being conducted in government offices, schools, and establishments for a better understanding of the disease to avoid confusion, misinformation, and panic among the people.

“We are calling (on) the public to avoid sharing unverified information,” she said, urging social media users to get and share information only from the press releases posted on the official website and social media accounts of DOH.

Aside from enhanced communication and information dissemination, the health department is also improving its coronavirus laboratory testing capacity, hospital preparedness, rapid response, and border and community surveillance to prevent the spread of the virus.

“We are still under code white and we assure that all infection and prevention control measures are strictly implemented and followed, especially in isolation areas,” Molon said.

Code white alert status means government-owned and DOH-retained medical facilities must be ready with their personnel, supplies, and equipment.

“I am reminding the public that the practice of proper hand hygiene and cough etiquette is still the best way to protect oneself from the virus. In such trying times, we should not let our fears overwhelm us and cause us to overreact. Let us all work together,” Molon said. (PNA)