Enough from the Kho’s Scandal. Let’s talk about on more serious matter, Duque confirms first A(H1N1) RP case
Health Secretary Dr. Francisco Duque III Thursday night confirmed the first case of Influenza A(H1N1) infection in the country—in a 10-year-old Filipino girl who arrived from the United States with her parents on May 18.
“The DoH confirms today the first case of AH1N1 in the Philippines. She is a female traveler who arrived in the country on May 18 from the United States, whose throat specimen tested positive based on results from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM),” Duque said.
Duque, who is in Geneva, Switzerland, attending a World Health Organization (WHO) meeting, held a video conference with reporters at the WHO regional office in Manila to break the news Thursday night.
“I talked with the president and from the tone of her voice she was very concerned. In fact, she gave me the go signal to conduct this press conference,” Duque added.
Dr. Eric Tayag of the Department of Health’s National Epidemiology Center said the girl, who was not identified, had also been to Canada.
The girl, he said, developed a fever, cough and sore throat on May 19, the day after arriving, and was brought to the RITM in Muntinlupa City where the diagnosis was confirmed Thursday.
Despite the index case, Duque said: “There is no community outbreak in the country, measures are being done to prevent transmission, including quarantine of immediate household of the first case. The first case is something we have been preparing for as a result of public and private sectors’ effective surveillance system.”
Health Undersecretary Mario Villaverde said the test results came Thursday afternoon from RITM and the patient was immediately given antiviral Oseltamivir.
The first case no longer had fever and cough but still has sore throat, said Villaverde.
Tayag said specimens from the index case will be sent to a WHO collaborating center in Melbourne as routine procedure for all specimens that will test positive for the novel AH1N1.
“The child developed the symptoms a day after arrival, so this is also a call for vigilance on the part of the public that people in the country and incoming travelers from abroad, especially from infected areas, submit themselves to quarantine screening and continuous monitoring of health, especially body temperature for 10 days, and to report to the DoH any flu-like symptoms,” said Villaverde.
Villaverde reiterated that the public should observe proper hygiene, strengthen resistance and do social distancing—avoid going to crowded areas if the need is not urgent.
Since there is only a single confirmed case, Villaverde said, there is no need to postpone the opening of schools in June.
Up till then the country had been flu-free despite the disease afflicting citizens of nearby countries like Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan.
In Geneva, a month after the world was alerted to a potential influenza pandemic, doubts fostered by the mild symptoms of the new swine flu virus have prompted the WHO to think twice about sounding the maximum alarm despite the spread of infection in 41 countries.
The WHO on Thursday raised its tally of swine flu cases around the world to 11,034 and 85 deaths. Most of the 791 new cases have been reported in Canada, Mexico and the United States.
Mexico confirmed three more deaths linked to the A(H1N1) virus, while the United States confirmed two additional deaths since Wednesday’s tally.