STATE OF CALAMITY. Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez visits a dengue patient being treated at a makeshift hospital on July 31, 2019. Tacloban’s city government on Friday (August 2, 2019) declared a state of calamity after dengue fever killed eight people in the city and afflicted 750 others from January 1 to July 26 this year. (Photo from FB page of Alfred Romualdez)

TACLOBAN CITY — The local government here has placed the entire city under a state of calamity due to the surge in dengue cases this year.

In a special session on Friday afternoon, the city council unanimously approved the declaration as the city health office recorded nearly 300 new cases in just a week.

“For one week there was an increase of 282 cases from the previous week, or 254 percent higher than the same period in the previous year. From 465 cases as of July 19, the number rose to 750 on July 25, with eight deaths,” Councilor Elvira Casal said, citing reports from the city health office.

These dengue cases have already surpassed the alert and epidemic threshold, said Casal, a physician.

With the declaration of a state of calamity, the city government can now use its quick response fund for emergency measures. The city has about PHP30 million in calamity fund this year, which it could use to purchase fogging machines, medicines, and rapid dengue test kits, as well as shoulder the salary of additional nurses who will man the makeshift hospital for dengue patients that was established by the city government.

Casal said last month, the Department of Health (DOH) deployed 16 nurses, who were only allowed to work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and were under the payroll of the DOH.

With the declaration, the city government could allot a budget for the nurses’ overtime pay, she said.

Councilor Rachelle Pineda sought the establishment of more rehydration facilities, particularly in villages with a high incidence of dengue fever, to augment the city’s only rehydration center for patients housed in a training center near the City Hall.

“By doing this, suspected dengue patients don’t have to travel from their village to the city proper, especially if they are from the north or southern part of the city,” Pineda said.

Of the city’s 138 villages, 95 are affected by dengue fever with 36 areas having clustered cases.

Earlier, the Leyte provincial government placed the entire province under a state of calamity.

Tacloban, being a highly-urbanized city, is not under the supervision of the provincial government. (PNA)