NINETY-FOUR people have died of dengue in Western Visayas — the region with the highest number of cases — as of July 19, according to data from the Department of Health-Center for Health Development-Region 6 (DOH-CHD-6).

A total of 18,834 cases of the mosquito-borne disease have been recorded between January and July 19 in Western Visayas, up 259% from the same period last year.

Among those reported to have died from the disease is the only daughter of former Janiuay town mayor Jose L. de Paula. The two daughters of Maasin Mayor Francis A. Amboy and Iloilo City Councilor Ely A. Estante were among those who tested positive for dengue.

Gyms in the towns of Maasin and Banate have been converted into temporary medical facilities for dengue patients to augment the 590 beds in the 11 district and provincial hospitals around the region.

DoH-6 Regional Director Marlyn W. Convocar announced earlier this week that all the private hospitals in Iloilo have agreed to accept dengue patients endorsed by government hospitals.

Moreover, 229 healthcare personnel have been deployed in the region to monitor the dengue cases.

Amidst the outbreak, the West Visayas Regional Blood Center of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) has assured that there is a sufficient supply of blood for dengue patients.

“We have sufficient blood supply mainly because of the continuous blood donation activities conducted recently, but we have to sustain it to replenish the blood supply,” Dennis Roy M. Pasadilla, PRC-Iloilo Chapter director and manager of the blood center, said in a phone interview.

In Iloilo City, a massive clean-up drive will be conducted on July 20 in all the 180 barangays to address mosquito breeding grounds.

As of July 13, the four regions with the highest number of dengue cases aside from Western Visayas are: Calabarzon (Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon) with 11,474 cases; Central Visayas, 9,199; Soccsksargen (South Cotabato-Cotabato-Sultan Kudarat-Sarangani-General Santos City, 9,107; and Northern Mindanao with 8,739. — Emme Rose S. Santiagudo