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Keep distance from Pacquiao, fans told

Posted on: May 8, 2009

<A href=http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view/20090508-203879/Keep-distance-from-Pacquiao-fans-told”&gt;Keep distance from Pacquiao, fans told</A>
By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 15:07:00 05/08/2009

Filed Under: Pacquiao, Swine Flu

MANILA, Philippines – Boxing fans should keep their distance from their idol, Manny Pacquiao, and his entourage if they plan to attend his public appearances as a precaution against contracting the Influenza A(H1N1) virus, a health official said.

With the consent of his supporter, Environment Secretary Lito Atienza, Pacquiao defied advice from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Department of Health (DoH), and went home on Friday from the United States, where there have been confirmed cases of the deadly strain of swine flu.

Pacquiao and his entourage checked into a hotel in the Makati City financial district and heard mass at the crowded Quiapo Church in downtown Manila. The church is packed with devotees of the Black Nazarene on Fridays.

The boxing champ was scheduled to attend an event at the SM Mall of Asia later Friday.

“[Fans should] maintain social distance of six meters. As much as possible, wag lalapit, makipagkamay o makipag-beso [don’t come near, shake hands, or kiss on the cheeks],” said Lyndon See Uy Program Manager of Infectious Disease Office at the National Center for Disease Prevention and Control

“We’re not against Pacquiao. We are doing this for everybody to prevent the virus transmission in case there is an infection,” Uy told INQUIRER.net.

Health officials also reminded Pacquiao anew to observe “social distancing” or limit contact with other people and watch out for flu-like symptoms for the next 5-10 days.

“But the case of Pacquiao and his entourage, which will be involved in activities that attract crowds upon arrival here, we advised him to do self-quarantine first or limited contact with crowds to facilitate quick contact tracing,” said health undersecretary Mario Villaverde.

Last Saturday (Sunday in Manila), Pacquiao beat British Boxer Ricky Hatton in the second round of their much-hyped match in Las Vegas, where cases of A(H1N1) were reported.

Villaverde said the health department was monitoring Pacquiao’s movements.

Uy said the health department would request for P1.8 billion to buy the anti-flu medicine Tamiflu enough for at least 1.2 million people or two percent of the country’s population. This will be on top of the plan to request for P93.5-million the government’s preparedness plan for a possible spread of the A(H1N1) virus.

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