5 more students test positive for AH1N1—DOH
Posted June 8, 2009on:
Number of new confirmed cases up to 13
By Anna Valmero
First Posted 16:43:00 06/08/2009
Filed Under: Swine Flu, Health
MANILA, Philippines – Five more students tested positive for the A(H1N1) flu virus, bringing the number of new confirmed cases to 13 and the total number of infected people nationwide to 46, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said Monday.
But despite the increase, Duque assured the public that there was “no AH1N1 outbreak in the country.”
“The 13 new confirmed include 8 Filipinos and 5 foreigners. Four are students of the De La Salle University and one from the East Asia College of Far Eastern University also in Manila. All patients are undergoing treatment at DOH [Department of Health] health facilities nationwide. Despite the 46 confirmed cases in the country, there is no AH1N1 outbreak in the country,” said Duque.
Asked if the four DLSU students had been in contact with the first reported case in the school involving a foreign exchange student, Duque said “they were still undergoing investigation.”
“We are hunting for the first case in DLSU and then we can link it to the subsequent cases,” said Duque.
Eight of the 13 who were infected came from the United States, Canada, and Japan. Of the eight, five were from DLSU and one from East Asia.
At the same time, Duque said there would be no need to suspend classes even as the DOH has shifted its strategy against the spread of the AH1N1 virus from containment to mitigation. This means that the DOH will do early detection and aggressive treatment only for those high-risk individuals or with underlying conditions while those with mild symptoms can stay at home while undergoing supportive treatment.
High-risk individuals are those with flu-like symptoms and with a history of travel to AH1N1-infected countries, those with close contact with confirmed cases, and those “immunocompromised” or with illnesses whose ages range from 5 years and below or over 50 years.
The four DLSU students are a 20-year-old Japanese male, a 20-year-old Korean male, a 16-year-old Filipino male, and 22-year-old American male while the first case in East Asia is an 18-year-old Filipina. All have no history of travel from AH1N1 infected countries, said Duque.
The remaining cases include six other Filipinos – a 22-year-old female who traveled to the United States, an 18-year-old male whose history of travel remains under investigation, a 12-year-old male who also traveled to the US, a 14-year-old female who traveled to Canada, a 14-year old female who traveled to the US, an 18-year-old Filipino who came from the US, and two Japanese nationals – a 27-year-old male and a 63-year-old male, who both arrived from Japan between May 30 and June 2.
The 16-year-old DLSU student showed signs of improvement even before treatment, indicating an improvement in the patients’ reaction to the virus, said Doctor Eric Tayag, National Epidemiology Center director.
On the plan to shift in strategy from prevention to mitigation, Duque said they were considering if airports should continue to have thermal scanners and health manifesto checklists, given that “the flu virus spreads faster than the detection of fever in thermal scanners.”
On Saturday, the Commission on Higher Education recommended that opening of classes in the tertiary levels next Monday instead of this week as precautionary measure.
As to business offices, Duque clarified that the DOH was not recommending their closure. But he suggested substitute employees for those suspected of having been infected with the AH1N1 virus.
“There is no need to wear masks, quarantine entire rooms and suspend business activities. Workplace is different from schools. Each office should have its own mitigation-contingency plan crafted according to our guidelines and advisory. We reiterate to employers to be humane in treatment of employees who might be ill from the AH1N1 virus,” said Duque.
“I emphasize early and appropriate health seeking behavior to the general public as we prepare for the increase in flu cases during the rainy season. For those with mild symptoms, stay at home, take supportive treatment, vitamins and plenty of rest. If you have pre-existing conditions plus flu symptoms, immediately see a doctor,” said Duque.
Since May 1, the DOH has monitored 541 cases, of which 46 tested positive, 98 with pending laboratory tests, 91 under observation, and 397 cleared of the flu virus.
There are 21, 940 cases reported by the World Health Organization, including 125 deaths in 69 affected countries.