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DoH cautions against long-term school suspensions amid dengue outbreak

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BW FILE/ERSSANTIAGUDO

THE DEPARTMENT of Health (DoH) is not keen on proposals to declare long-term class suspensions in the Western Visayas amid the dengue outbreak in the region. “We don’t want to be disruptive,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque IIII said during a visit to Iloilo last week. “Unless we know the difference between the risks, it will be difficult to say that the schools are at higher risk and you send them into communities where there is stagnant water, so baka pinababalik mo lang sa mataas na (we might just be sending the children to areas with higher) risk,” he added. Mr. Duque suggested that school administrations and local governments conduct risk assessment together with Education and Health representatives to determine suspension recommendations on a “case-to-case basis.” Several schools in Iloilo province and Iloilo City have recently declared class suspensions to conduct clean-up and spraying activities. Mr. Duque said these mitigation activities in schools could be scheduled during the weekends. Iloilo Gov. Arthur R. Defensor Jr. also said that class suspensions should be guided by an evaluation if the disease is indeed coming from the school environment. “It (suspension) is an option if (we are) sure na ang dengue is nangagaling sa eskwela (that the mosquito-borne disease is spreading in the school),” he said. Both Iloilo province and the city have already declared a state of calamity due to dengue to tap into funds for response measures. — Emme Rose S. Santiagudo

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