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Increase in pneumonia cases noted in PGH

More than four months since the government lifted the COVID-19 state of public health emergency in the country, it was noted that there is an increase in cases of pneumonia at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) in Manila, according to Bam Alegre's report on "Saksi."

A health official said there are several patients at the PGH who have to be intubated.

"Ang problema po siyempre kapag naka-intubate, matagal-tagal po ang gamutan. Dahil sa mostly nga po severe ang pneumonia nila, hindi po sila basta-basta rin makapasok sa loob ng ospital dahil ang ICU po ay puno din," said Dr. Jonas del Rosario, PGH spokesperson.

(The problem is of course when intubated, the treatment takes a long time. Because their pneumonia is mostly severe, they can't just enter the hospital because the ICU is also full.)

Del Rosario said the symptoms of pneumonia include difficulty in breathing, chest pain, and persistent fever.

There are infants and elderly patients confined in the hospital.

"Ang nababawasan naman po ng kama o opportunity, ay 'yung mga may cancer, na-stroke, inatake sa puso, dialysis. E 'yung pneumonia sana, ang aming pakiusap sa mga LGU hospitals, sila na po ang umako, para po mapagbigyan natin 'yung talagang mga makaka-avail po ng specialty services ng PGH," he added. 

(The ones who are losing beds or opportunities are those who have cancer, stroke, heart attack, dialysis. But pneumonia, our request to the LGU hospitals, to take it upon themselves, so that we can accommodate them. So we give way to those who can really avail of PGH's specialty services.) 

In the first three months of 2023, there were 41,497 cases of pneumonia recorded in the country while more than 201,798 cases were recorded in 2022.

These are various types of infectious diseases caused by different viruses or bacteria with the following symptoms: sore throat, colds, headache, muscle pain, chills, malaise, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Del Rosario said it would be a big help if both children and adults would get the pneumococcal vaccine, which is a defense against the most common source of pneumonia - Streptococcus pneumonia.

Influenza-like illness

The health department also observed an increase in influenza-like illnesses (ILI) as we enter the ber-months.

The recorded cases from January to October 13 this year is 45% higher compared to those recorded in the same period last year. 

Although the increase in cases has slowed down by November, taking precautions such as wearing a face mask and getting vaccinated is advised.

Immunity gap

According to Dr. Rontgene Solante, an infectious disease specialist, apart from the change in weather, the increase in respiratory illnesses is possibly caused by the so-called immunity gap.

"Ang immunity gap is a global phenomenon 'yan, because after the pandemic, yung mga vaccine-preventable diseases, kasama na diyan 'yung influenza, pneumonia, measles. Talagang bumababa ang vaccination coverage doon sa mga vulnerable population, including children," he said. 

(The immunity gap is a global phenomenon, because after the pandemic, the vaccine-preventable diseases, including influenza, pneumonia, measles. The vaccination coverage is actually decreasing among vulnerable populations, including children.) — Sherylin Untalan/BAP, GMA Integrated News