WATCH | DOH confirms a total of 19 cases of local Zika infection since September
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines -- The Department of Health (DOH) confirmed on Friday two more locally-transmitted Zika infections, bringing to 19 the total number of such cases in the country since September.

In a press briefing held in conjunction with the conduct of the First National Summit on Zika Virus Disease held at Hotel Conrad Manila in Pasay City, Health Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo said the two new cases are from Region IV-A or CALABARZON composed of the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon.

Dr. Bayugo said the two new cases are a woman estimated to be in the mid-forties and a young boy, adding that they are still checking further if the woman is pregnant or not.

"Wala pa kaming information kung buntis siya [We still have no information if she is pregnant]; it will be relayed to us (as we do further surveillance)," he said.

As of this writing, the two new cases are not confined in the hospitals.

"We will still find out more if they are in the same street in Cavite," said DOH spokesman Dr. Eric. Tayag, without mentioning any specific area in Cavite province where the latest two cases were recorded.

The index Zika infection in the country was recorded in Iloilo last Sept. 2, 2016.

Based on the DOH records, 12 of the 19 locally transmitted Zika cases nationwide were from Western Visayas, three from the National Capital Region, three from CALABARZON and one from Central Visayas.

All of the cases were classified as local transmission since they have no history of travel to Zika endemic areas prior to the onset of their illness.

These cases further support the earlier conclusion that the Zika causing mosquitoes are actually present in the country.

According to DOH, the transmission so far indicates that mosquitoes are the reason for occurrence of Zika cases as confirmed through the laboratory test at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Muntinlupa City.

The tests are done through the use of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test kits which detect the presence of the virus in the blood and urine samples of suspected patients. The RITM has prepared 7,000 test kits for patients who exhibit symptoms of Zika.

Watch the News5 video report by Mon Gualvez below:

No one has died from the virus but the DOH said the public should be vigilant.

The DOH however admitted that its knowledge of the virus is still limited.

Meanwhile, during the same press conference, Philippine Medical Association (PMA) president Dr. Ireneo Bernardo III raised the concern of medical practitioners in terms of the guidelines in the correct diagnosis of Zika to actually help them in making the right conclusion in terms of diagnosis and in doing also the referral if a patient needs to be tested in the event that possible infection will be ruled out.

"For the information of everyone, it is in this Summit that the DOH will once more unveil its list of guidelines that have different topics from surveillance and mosquito control and even the care of mothers giving birth to babies with microcephaly or congenital defects," DOH spokesperson Dr. Tayag said.

The Summit, with the theme "One Philippines Against Zika," gathered international and local experts to provide updates on the global and Philippine situation regarding Zika infection, including the Iloilo experience.

Issues on case detection and reporting, including challenges in laboratory testing and mosquito control, were likewise presented.

Other topics discussed were Zika on non-pregnant adult women and children, Zika infection in pregnancy, Zika infection and the effects on central nervous system of new born, case detection and reporting, laboratory diagnosis, vector surveillance and control or guidelines and strategies recommended by DOH.

The participants in the conference afterwards gave their pledges of commitment in the Zika prevention and control as they realized that success can be achievable through joint efforts and contributions of health advocates.