Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Friday, May 29, 2009

Zambales Wedding AH1N1 climbs to eight

A(H1N1) cases in RP climb to 14; DOH says no need to panic

The number of confirmed cases of A(H1N1) influenza in the Philippines has risen to 14, the Department of Health announced Friday.

The four Filipinos confirmed on Friday to be infected with the virus were a 19-year-old female and a seven-year-old girl from the United States, and a two-year-old girl and a 20-year-old male who had contact with Taiwanese nationals during a wedding in Zambales province.

Despite the addition of four more cases to the 10 confirmed cases on Thursday, however, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III assured that there is no indication that there is already sustained community transmission in the country.

“We would like to emphasize that the DOH anticipates this case of A(H1N1 rise at it is happening in many other countries. There should be no cause for alarm," Duque assured.

He said that the latest confirmed infected people – all of whom are Filipinos – have already been administered with oseltamivir, an anti-viral drug commonly used to treat flu infections. All four had “relatively mild symptoms," he said.

Duque said that based on the conditions of the all 14 people hit by the virus so far in the Philippines, the symptoms of the illness had been “mild and self limiting."

In an attempt to quell public fear of the global outbreak, Duque said that the public should actually dread the dengue virus more than the A(H1N1) virus.

He said that the dengue virus has already claimed 57 lives in the Philippines in the first four months of 2009. Meanwhile, the A(H1N1) has a less than one percent “case fatality rate."

“[The four new victims are] being closely monitored in health facilities and all are responding positively to the treatment," Duque said, even as he added that the DOH continues to closely watch the situation.

Despite the rate of cases confirmation – 14 cases in the span of eight days - the DOH reiterated that it was still all systems go for the opening of classes next week.

“There is no indication there is already a sustained community transmission in the Philippines. And for this reason, we do not recommend that classes expected to open on June 1 be postponed," Duque said.

The Health official reiterated that more than any anti-viral drug, the perfect remedy for the A(H1N1) infection if proper prevention. He said that the washing of hands is still the best way to prevent a spread of the virus. “Preventive pubic health measure is still the best weapon against A(H1N1) and all other viruses for that matter."

Duque threw the advise to the public, especially to those people most prone of contracting the disease including those with pre-existing conditions such as asthma, Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, immunodeficiencies, as well as pregnant women and young children.

Wedding gone wrong

The Philippines first charted on the WHO list of influenza affected countries list on May 21 when a 10-year-old girl who traveled to A(H1N1)-stricken Canada and the United States.

Three days later, on May 24, the DOH added to its list of confirmed cases a 50-year-old woman who came from the US. The first two victims (called Cases 1 and 2) have both fully recovered and should have been discharged as of this posting.

In the next few days, the DOH would announce eight more confirmed cases, including six of who were attendees in the Zambales wedding where an infected Taiwanese mother and daughter were present.

The six wedding attendees – one of which was a foreigner – included:

• a 24-year-old woman,
• her one-year-old daughter,
• a 47-year-old man,
• a 13-year-old boy,
• a 55-year-old man, and
• a 26-year-old woman

Apart from these six people, a one-year-old baby girl from the US and a 13-year-old boy from Hong Kong likewise tested positive for the virus. The teenager has already recovered while the rest remain under observation.

Figures rising

Since May 1, the DOH has monitored 211 people suspected of contracting the novel flu virus. Of that number, 172 had been discarded after testing negative.

As of this posting, the DOH still has 27 remaining cases under observation.

Globally, the virus had stricken 13,398 people in 48 countries, according to the latest report (Update 40) of the World Health Organization. At least 95 people had succumbed to the feared virus.

The three largest countries in North America – namely the United States, Mexico and Canada – continue to lead in the reported confirmed cases. The US has reported 6,764 cases, while Mexico and Canada each have 4,541 and 921 cases, respectively. - MARK D. MERUEÑAS With Johanna Camille Sisante, GMANews.TV

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