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DOH 6 cascades new COVID-19 protocols

ILOILO CITY (PIA) -- The Department of Health Western Visayas Center for Health Development (DOH WV CHD) held an online meeting to disseminate the DOH Department Circular No. 2023-0324 about the updated health protocols following the lifting of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency in the country.

The CHD's Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU) spearheaded the said meeting and was participated in by the member agencies of the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (RIATF-MEID) and the Regional Task Force (RTF) on COVID-19 as well as the representatives of the health offices of the local government units and of the public and private health facilities across Western Visayas.

In her message, DOH 6 Local Health Support Division (LHSD) chief Dr. May Ann Soliva-Sta. Lucia noted that the decrease in COVID-related deaths, the decline in hospitalizations and ICU admissions, and high levels of population immunity puts our country on “normal footing.”

This is based on the report of the International Health Regulation Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Though COVID-19 remains to be a serious concern for certain sub-populations and requires continued 

public health response, the country has maintained sufficient health care system capacity,” she added.

Meanwhile, DOH 6 RESU chief Dr. Jane Juanico-Esteva explained the updated protocols stipulated in the aforementioned circular.

This includes the updated protocols on the minimum public health standards, masking, quarantine, and isolation protocols, and reporting and risk communication among health facilities and surveillance units.

Under the new protocol, the wearing of face masks will no longer be mandatory, including in health facilities which will be dependent on their respective Infection Prevention and Control Committees (IPCC). Wearing the same will also be no longer mandatory in public transportation.

However, she recommends wearing masks for the elderly, immunocompromised individuals, pregnant women, those who are not vaccinated, and symptomatic individuals.

Despite the lifting of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency in the country, DOH still recommends vaccination against the disease to all eligible populations.

On the quarantine and isolation protocol, the DOH no longer requires quarantine for asymptomatic close contacts exposed to COVID-19 positive individuals but they are advised to wear a well-fitted mask for 10 days.

For asymptomatic but confirmed COVID-19 positive individuals and those with mild symptoms, they are advised to isolate for five days or until fever-free for at least 24 hours and wear a well-fitted mask for 10 days.

While for COVID-19 positive individuals with moderate to severe symptoms, isolation for 10 days is required from the onset of the symptoms, and wearing a well-fitted mask for 10 days. The protocol applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.

Also, with the new protocol, the reporting of COVID-19 case bulletins to the public will already be done weekly, this includes other notifiable diseases as well.

Citing the collective efforts of all those involved in the pandemic battle of the country, Sta. Lucia calls for continued unity to combat any potential health risks and future pandemics.

“We must remain vigilant and proactive in our approach to health and safety, continued awareness and adherence to recommended protocols which are paramount to safeguarding ourselves and our communities,” she stressed.

To note, President Ferdinand R. Marcos, through Proclamation No. 297, lifted the state of public health emergency in the country due to COVID-19 on July 21, 2023.

The Proclamation revokes, withdraws, or cancels all issuances during the period of the state of a public health emergency, except for the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which is still valid for a year to exhaust the remaining COVID-19 vaccines. (AAL/FRG/PIA6)

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Franz Remar Garion

Region 6

Indicium gladio fortior est

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