The Iloilo Provincial Government is closely monitoring the municipality of Sta. Barbara, where there is a reported clustering of pertussis, and expressed readiness to purchase vaccines to arrest the increasing cases of whooping cough in the province.

The province has logged 30 pertussis cases with seven deaths from Jan. 1 to March 23.

“We have a buffer stock of 14,000 (vaccine doses) as of the moment and could last until May. This is part of the routine. However, we asked for extra in case of outbreak response,” Iloilo Provincial Health Office head Dr. Maria Socorro Quiñon said in a press conference on Tuesday, April 2.

Quiñon said of the 30 cases, nine are laboratory-confirmed. Of the seven deaths, only four are laboratory confirmed, two turned negative based on laboratory tests and one is a probable case.

“All our deaths were below our target except for the four-month-old from Sta. Barbara who fortunately had two doses and did not die. All the others who died were below our target for immunization,” she added.

Sta. Barbara has recorded a clustering of cases in its three barangays and is expected to declare a municipal-wide outbreak, while other towns have one case.

“We will elevate our measures. We should be ready to augment the capacity of our rural health units like we have augmented before in our other concerns and of course, our hospitals, also,” Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. said in the same media conference.

He also ordered the close monitoring of the capacity of rural health centers and a continued immunization program.

Defensor said the province can source funds from its local disaster risk reduction and management when there is a need to purchase additional vaccines.

Nonetheless, Quiñon said municipalities are ready and they have available stocks.

“Just in case, we can also do augmentation as we also have drugs and medicines,” she said. Perla Lena PNA