DOH raises code white alert in Calabarzon due to Taal Volcano smog

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health- Center for Health Development Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) has declared “code white alert” from September 21 to 24, 2023 due to Taal Volcano Gas Emissions.

Photo Credit: Tuy MDDRMO/Philippine Information Agency Calabarzon

“We have raised the alert status due to persistent sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission that is causing smog or vog from Taal Volcano in Batangas,” said DOH Calabarzon Regional Director Ariel I. Valencia.

Code white alert status refers to the readiness of the hospital workforce such as general and orthopedic surgeons, anesthesiologists, internist, operating room nurses, ophthalmologist, and otorhinolaryngologist to respond to any emergency situation.

DOH to Batanguenos: stay indoors and weak mask to prevent respiratory infection

Valencia added that “vog should not be taken lightly as sulfur dioxide poses a serious threat to human health that can cause: eye irritation, throat and respiratory diseases, to which can aggravate pre-existing respiratory ailments depending on the concentration or duration of inhalation, and acid rain damages crops that can lead into household water supplies.”

Yesterday, the DOH received reports that some students from Batangas were brought to a Rural Health unit (RHU) due to volcanic smog.

“There are reported individuals (students) na hinimatay at nakaranas ng hirap sa paghinga at pananakit ng dibdib. We are still collecting reports from the local health kung ilan ang total affected,” Valencia added.

Hence, the DOH continues to advise communities affected by the volcanic smog to stay indoors and close doors and windows, wear a N95 mask if needed to go out, drink plenty of water to avoid eye irritation and immediately go to the nearest hospital if necessary.

The DOH CALABARZON assured the public that the Regional Offices-Disaster Risk Reduction and Management for Health (DRRM-H) maintain close coordination with the local task force, incident management teams for cooperation, coordination and action. The DOH will likewise actively monitor the volcano bulletin and other health-related emergencies.

Meanwhile, Director Valencia advised all DRRM-H to continue following measures such as: 24-hour operation in Emergency Operations Center/One Hospital Command Center; Preparation for evacuation or pre-emptive evacuation of personnel and patients in health facilities and other health facilities; Ensure adequacy and prepositioned of logistics (Face masks, medicines and others.; Ensure adequacy of clean and potable drinking water at all times.

The Philippine Institute of of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) in its Thursday, 5:30 pm bulletin said that volcanic smog has been observed over Taal Lake and has lingered over the region until present.

Continuous upwelling persists at the Taal main crater, generating steam plumes that rose to 2,400 meters. A total of 4,569 tonnes/day of volcanic sulfur dioxide gas emission from the Taal main crater was also measured yesterday.

— The Summit Express

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