A(H1N1) cases hit 5,212
Posted October 28, 2009on:
By Anna Valmero
First Posted 14:09:00 10/26/2009
Filed Under: Health, Swine Flu, Diseases, Government
MANILA, Philippines—A total of 5,212 A(H1N1) influenza cases were monitored in the country between April and October 18 with 30 deaths, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Monday.
Although the global community was alerted again of the possible (A)H1N1 outbreak when United States President Barack Obama placed the disease as a national emergency, Duque said Filipinos should not worry because the country’s own national health system—with containment, mitigation, and monitoring measures in place—can handle the situation.
“We are constantly monitoring our (A)H1N1 cases in the country and with 30 deaths in 5,212 cases, we can say that the case fatality rate is 0.6 percent or below the global case fatality rates of 1.2 percent. There is no need for hyper alertness because we have seen 99 percent of our cases have fully recovered and our measures are effective. But we are ready,” said Duque.
Since April, the health department through the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine is conducting random testing case samples to identify a possible “second-wave outbreak.” If symptoms and signs get more serious in test cases, this might signal that the virus has mutated into a deadlier form.
Five of the country’s general hospitals can test for and admit (A)H1N1 cases including San Lazaro Hospital, RITM, Lung Center of the Philippines, Davao General Hospital, and Vicente Sotto Memorial Center in Cebu in addition to several private hospitals, said Duque.
The health chief added that his department has signed an agreement with the World Health Organization to be notified once the vaccines are available so it can order P100 million worth of vaccines good for at least 100,000 cases.
DoH started talks with China and the United States, two of the countries known to manufacture (A)H1N1 vaccines to place orders for the country’s vulnerable sectors including children, elderly, pregnant women, and people with pre-existing medical conditions, said Duque.
However, China and the United States expressed that they cannot promise to allocate vaccine supply for other countries because their production turnout is insufficient for their own population of vulnerable sectors, he said.
DoH said incoming travelers from wintering countries will be subject to quarantine if they register fever in thermal scans at international and domestic airport terminals.
“There is no need for heightened surveillance in our airports as a means to contain the virus because the virus has been present in the country since April. We, however, are closely monitoring the influx of tourists from wintering countries by checking if they have fever upon arrival and by instructing them to contact us should they suspect themselves to have flu-like illness caused by the virus,” said Duque.
He urged Filipinos to cover their mouth when coughing or sneezing, and to regularly wash their hands to prevent the spread of diseases.