DOH on ‘Code White’ alert until Jan. 4

MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) has raised the Code White alert for the entire health sector during the holiday celebrations until Jan. 4, 2024. The DOH’s Health Emergency Management Bureau raised the alert on Dec. 20 among its central and regional offices, public and private hospitals, and other health facilities.

Based on DOH Administrative Order No. 2008-0024, the code alert system ensures a comprehensive and well-coordinated response by management and adequate resource mobilization for emergencies and disasters. It uses the Emergency Incident Command System as its core principle with three colors — Code White, Code Blue, and Code Red — in increasing order of alertness.

“A Code White Alert may be declared based on factors such as a strong possibility of a military operation with national implication; any planned mass actions or demonstrations with national implication; forecast typhoons (Signal 2 up); national or local elections and other political exercises; any emergency with potentially 10 to 50 deaths or injuries; notification of reliable information of terrorist attack/activities; unconfirmed report of reemerging diseases (e.g., bird flu, SARS); and any other hazard that may result in emergency,” the DOH explained.

Christmas and New Year are considered national events with the potential for mass casualty incidents with 10 or more dead or injured, hence the need to declare a Code White Alert. Hospitals are expected to activate their operations center, which will continuously report and coordinate with the regional and central DOH operations center throughout the Code White Alert period.

Emergency and operating rooms, especially for trauma, are provided with more medicines and medical supplies. X-ray plates and other laboratory requirements will be made available without having the victims spend on them. More funds and staff will be ready for use and deployment, with greater logistics coordination as well as security as the triage system is enhanced in anticipation of the number of patients.

“Under orders of President Marcos, the DOH and all hospitals and health facilities will be ready for all untoward incidents this Christmas and New Year season. However, the best cure is still to prevent such incidents, especially trauma, from even happening,” Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa said.

“Let’s avoid fireworks. Let’s not drink alcohol and drive a motorcycle or any vehicle when drunk. Let us all help each other and welcome the New Year happy and healthy together,” he added.

The higher Code Blue and Code Red Alerts require worse conditions such as damage to health facilities, lack of resources or capabilities by local governments to respond, and higher number of casualties, among others. (PNA)