Tuesday, June 02, 2009

DOH: Still no reason to panic despite rise in A(H1N1) cases

(Updated 9:25 a.m.) MANILA, Philippines - The rise in confirmed Influenza A(H1N1) cases to 21 as of Monday is still no cause for the public to panic, health authorities maintained Tuesday.

National Epidemiology Center head Dr. Eric Tayag said there is still no community-level outbreak in the Philippines, adding a four-level warning system is in place to deal with the problem.

"Wala tayong community-level outbreak [We have no community outbreak yet]. Pero may nilabas na gabay [but have issued guidelines] for Department of Health, Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education at Technical and Educational Skills Development Authority – a response system in a scale of 1 to 4]," Tayag said in an interview on dzXL radio.

He also said that as of Tuesday morning, there is no case of A(H1N1) in schools.

Tayag said the only time schools would shut down is if there is a wide community-level outbreak.

"Kung malawak ang community-level outbreak, maraming iskwelahan [ang] maaring magsara [It is only when community-level outbreak is widespread that schools can close]," he said.

21 cases

On Monday, the Department of Health confirmed five more cases of A(H1N1) virus infection – bringing to 21 the number of people who have contracted the disease.

The DOH identified the new cases as a 40-year-old female and a 51-year-old male who got the virus after attending the wedding in Zambales where an infected Taiwanese mother and daughter were present.

The remaining three new confirmed cases were Filipinos who had come from the United States: a 19-year-old male, a 45-year-old male, and a 39-year-old female. [See table.]

The DOH added that it had recorded a total of 315 cases since it started monitoring possible virus infection on May 1. At least 262 patients in these cases had been cleared already and discharged while 32 others remain quarantined pending laboratory results.

In a related development on Monday night, the department said that 29 students in Nueva Ecija province are being monitored by health and school officials.

A report aired on QTV’s “News on Q" said the students came in close contact with a 19-year old female who just came from the United States with flu-like symptoms.

Alert system

The four-level warning system Tayag was talking about is the new alert system set up by the DOH and the DepEd.

The two government agencies said they hope the alert system would serve as a guideline on when schools can send students home in case the virus reaches their respective vicinities.

Like in regular Storm Signal warnings, the A(H1N1) alert levels start from Level 1 and peak at Level 4. When a Level 3 is declared in a specific school, the school superintendent is given the authority to suspend classes.

When the alert level goes up further by a notch to Level 4, the situation is elevated to the regional DepEd office and only a regional director is given the power to send students home. - with reports from Sophia Dedace, GMANews.TV


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