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11 Ecija kids confirmed with H1N1

By Tonette Orejas
Central Luzon Desk
First Posted 16:12:00 06/12/2009

Filed Under: Swine Flu, Health, Epidemic and Plague, Children

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Philippines -- Ten more children in Barangay Hilera in Jaen, Nueva Ecija have tested positive for the H1N1 virus, bringing to 11 the number of confirmed cases there, the regional director of the Department of Health said Friday.

Health officials were also now keeping a close watch on four other villages.

Dr. Rio Magpantay, DOH Central Luzon regional director, made the confirmation after the DOH central office relayed the results of the tests and as Health Secretary Francisco Duque III prepared to announce the findings.

The 10 new cases were among the first batch of 15 children tested last Sunday. Nine of the 10 are students of the Hilera Elementary School while the 10th is a four-year-old child. The first infected confirmed case from that batch an 11-year-old boy from the same school, he said.

“They’re all being treated in their homes and are recovering well. Their symptoms are mild,” Magpantay said when asked about the health of the 11 students.

Four persons in that first batch tested negative, Magpantay said.

Another batch, consisting of 19 students and adult villagers, is being observed.

The DOH took throat swabs from them on Thursday night.

As the confirmed cases rose to 11, Magpantay said the DOH expanded the surveillance to the villages of Kalabasa, Pitak, Lambakin and Pakul.

A team of 30 health personnel are doing house visits in all four villages to identify people who show symptoms of human swine flu, he said.

Magpantay said the DOH was not inclined to declare a community-level outbreak in Hilera.

“It appears that all the 11 cases originated from one case and they’re mostly in the Grade 6 class.”

None of those in the first and second batch, 34 persons in all, had traveled overseas before classes opened on June 1.

The boy confirmed as the first swine flu patient had vacationed in Bulacan. It was not determined yet if his infection originated from his contacts in Bulacan or from members of a medical mission that visited the village on May 31, Magpantay said.

With the rising number of confirmed cases in Hilera, he said the DOH has adopted the agency’s guidelines for treatment, which means aggressive detection and management.

The DOH has maintained a command post in Hilera, which is supervised now from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

On the side, other personnel continue to trace the contacts of the 11 infected persons.

Before the regional DOH office actively intervened last week, Jaen Mayor Santiago Austria had cancelled classes at the Hilera Elementary School for two weeks as 22 students there were stricken with fever.

The provincial health officer, Dr. Benjamin Lopez, deemed the ailments to be “ordinary flu.”

Last week, 53 students in the same school and four other village residents showed what Magpantay called influenza-like illness.

Nueva Ecija Governor Aurelio Umali said the provincial and local governments had already prepared the support network for the DOH’s pro-active approach in containing the spread of the virus ahead of the Jaen situation.

“The program is proving to be successful because it is the DOH that is on the lead. We [in the LGUs] heeded DOH’s advice not to be visible so as not to confuse the people. I’m very confident that the DOH is doing quite a job here,” Umali said.

He said the DOH has allowed Hilera villagers to freely move around.

“But they are also advised that if they don’t have important things to do outside, they are encouraged to stay home and to also report at once the symptoms they observe in their bodies and of their family members,” Umali said.

Dr. Mario Ramirez, regional director of the Department of Education in Central Luzon, said the reopening of classes in Hilera Elementary School will depend on the advice of the DOH.

“It can go less or beyond 10 days,” Ramirez said. “What is important is public health. "

Copyright 2009 Central Luzon Desk. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.




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