Saturday, June 6, 2009

'Class suspensions won't prevent spread of A(H1N1)' - Duque

Moving the opening of classes will not guarantee a school's safety from the influenza A(H1N1) virus, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said Saturday.

"Hindi natin masasabi iyon. Walang kasiguruhan sa virus na ito. Ang banta na iyan, andyan na iyan at hindi basta-bastang mawawala. Ang pasya ng mga school ng iurong ang opening [ng klase] ay malabo ang batayan (We cannot say that. There's no assurance with this virus. The virus' threat will not go away. The schools' decision to move the opening of classes has no clear basis)," Duque told radio dzMM's Para Sa Iyo Bayan program.

The health secretary reiterated that schools should use the government's new school suspension alert system for the new influenza virus instead.

The De La Salle University (DLSU) in Manila is currently implementing a 10-day suspension of classes after three of its students tested positive for influenza A(H1N1).

The schools that have suspended the opening of classes from June 8 were the University of Santo Tomas, University of the Philippines-Manila, Far Eastern University, University of Asia and the Pacific and St. Paul University-Manila.

Duque said that while the schools' suspension of opening of classes is within the authority given to them by the Commission on Higher Education, there are better ways to prevent the spread of the dreaded influenza virus in campuses.

He said the practice proper hygiene among students and school officials is still the best protection against the virus.

DLSU cases

Duque on Friday announced that four more people have been infected with A(H1N1) in the Philippines, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 33.

One of the new cases is a 17-year-old DLSU student, who may have been infected by the two Japanese students.

The student does not have a history of travel to countries with confirmed cases of A(H1N1). He manifested symptoms on June 2 and consulted a doctor on June 3 in response to the health advisory of DLSU officials.

“The three DLSU cases are responding well to their treatments and do not even have fever anymore, including the latest case. Contact tracing though is still in progress,” Duque said.

The first case in DLSU, a 21-year-old female student, arrived in the Philippines on May 12. She reported flu-like symptoms on May 29 and was tested on May 31. Her positive result was reported June 3.

The DLSU campus along Taft Avenue in Manila is closed for 10 days, or from June 4 until June 14, to avoid the virus from spreading to other students.

Duque said the health department is currently tracing 120 students who had contact with the three DLSU patients.

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