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Ormoc under ‘state of calamity’

ORMOC IS now under a State of Calamity because of the dengue epidemic. It was declared such on the evening of August 7, after the Health Board and the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council recommended its declaration to Mayor Richard Gomez. 

The city council, on the other hand, convened for a special session on this afternoon, August 8, to pass a resolution declaring the city under a state of calamity. The resolution was passed on mass motion by the council members. 

In both instances, city disaster risk reduction management officer Ciriaco Tolibao, City Health Department OIC Dr. Edmund Kierulf, and infectious disease monitor nurse Elsie Jaca were present to clarify questions on the need for the declaration. 

Dr. Kierulf described the dengue situation in Ormoc City as “alarming”. On August 1, two private hospitals in the city reported admissions of 20 dengue positive patients. 

Yesterday, on August 5, nurse Jaca said, 21 admissions were reported in the city’s hospitals. 

Jaca said the number of cases have already breached epidemic level. Ormoc chalked up 426 cases already up to August 6, 2019, higher than the 262 cases last year for the same period. 

She explained that an epidemic is announced when the number of cases for the current year exceeds that of last year’s by more than 10 percent. This year, she said, Ormoc’s number of cases exceeds by 63% compared to 2018. 

Councilor Gerardo Penserga, a doctor, on the other hand, stressed in the joint health board and CDRRM council meeting the need to “search and destroy” breeding areas of mosquitoes. He also warned of a dire future, saying that “half of Ormoc will be dying next year if the community will not participate in the search and destroy activities.” 

Penserga stressed that cleanup is not enough. He also said it should be done weekly, and that the City Health needs more search and destroy teams and fogging teams. 

The declaration of a state of calamity paves for the release of the city’s calamity funds as Local Disaster Risk Reduction Management Fund (LDRRMF), which can be used to “support disaster risk management activities” like trainings, purchase of life-saving equipment, supplies and medicines and post-disaster activities. It can even be used as payment of premiums on calamity insurance and construction of evacuation centers. 

Meanwhile, 30 percent of the LDRRMF can be classified as Quick Response Fund (QRF), which can be used for relief and recovery for the situation in the city to normalize as quickly as possible.

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