MANILA – The death toll from Typhoon Rai in the Philippines has surged to 389, with 64 more missing, a government disaster agency said on Monday.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said that the typhoon, which made landfall in the Philippines on Dec. 16, also injured 1,146.
The agency said the the typhoon has affected more than 4.2 million people in 11 regions in central and southern parts of the Philippines, as well as parts of the main Luzon Island.
The typhoon, the 15th and most powerful to have hit the country this year, forced villagers to spend their holiday season days in evacuation centers because of damaged houses.
According to the agency, nearly 315,000 of more than 570,000 displaced people are temporarily housed in 1,179 evacuation centers. More than 500,000 houses were destroyed.
Typhoon damage to agriculture and infrastructure has reached over 22 billion pesos (about 440 million U.S. dollars).
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told an online briefing that the typhoon damaged 141 health facilities, including hospitals, in five areas hit hard by the storm.
The Philippines’ Department of Health (DOH) has monitored food and water-borne diseases like diarrhea and acute gastroenteritis in typhoon-hit areas. Some patients were taken to hospitals.
Vergeire urged the evacuees to follow ways to avoid infections amid the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that it is imperative to watch for evacuees with coronavirus symptoms, and make separate rooms for the vulnerable such as the elderly.
She said that the typhoon has also affected 62 testing laboratories for COVID-19 and wasted thousands of doses of vaccines due to power outages.
The government continues to bring aid to the affected areas, including food, drinking water, while restoring damaged roads, telecommunications and houses.