By Rommel C. Lontayao, Reporter
The Department of Health (DOH) on
Monday confirmed the Philippines’ first case of a community
outbreak of Influenza A(H1N1) after eight people in a village in
Jaen, Nueva Ecija tested positive for the new virus strain.
Local executives in that province
declared the outbreak in Barangay Hilera over the weekend, but
health authorities were quick to point that all cases of infection
were mild in nature.
“It’s an outbreak of mild
A(H1N1) cases,” said Health Secretary Francisco Duque 3rd, adding
that the patients are all responding well to treatment.
Duque also announced that there
were 46 more confirmed mild A(H1N1) cases over the weekend, and the
total number of cases was now 193.
The Health department said all
the new cases involved Filipinos: 27 females and 19 males, ages 9
years old to 47.
Cases in Bulacan
Meanwhile, the Health department
also said that it received a new report that eight more cases have
been confirmed but details of such cases are still being verified.
The Health department only
disclosed that the eight new cases were from the Candelaria National
High School in Candelaria, Bulacan.
The school suspended its classes
last week after more than 50 students exhibited flu-like symptoms.
Kenneth Tirado, communication
unit chief of the Education department, confirmed the suspension of
classes in a high school in Bulacan.
He said there was no confirmation
yet that the students were infected with A(H1N1), but classes were
suspended for 10 days beginning June 11 because of the big number of
He added that the Department of
Health was currently conducting mapping out operations, while school
officials have taken precautions while the students were tested and
quarantined at home.
Duque said he was bracing for the
number of confirmed cases to rise, because more infected people were
to be detected through contact tracing and because of the new
community outbreak. But he added that he was glad to announce that
the infections were not severe and many have already recovered from
He said 33 more A(H1N1) patients
have been sent home over the weekend after recovering from the said
illness. To date, the country has already 71 fully recovered cases.
Under the Influenza A(H1N1)
Response Level System in Schools, which the Health department
earlier issued, school administrators can announce the suspension of
classes if there is already one or more confirmed case of the
dreaded flu virus in the school or the community.
When there is already community
transmission, the Department of Education, the Commission on Higher
Education (CHED) and the Technical Education and Skills Development
Authority (Tesda) can announce closure of one or more schools in the
But Duque said this guideline may
He explained that it may no
longer be necessary to close schools in case of a community
transmission of the virus. He emphasized that suspension of classes
would only be implemented if doing so could still help prevent the
spread of the virus.
With the newly reported cases,
Duque reiterated that not only school authorities but also barangay
leaders and heads of offices, across the country should continue
reporting to their respective local government executives any
unusual occurrence of flu-like symptoms.
“This effort is part of the
readiness of the DOH to shift from containment to mitigation,” he
Chairman Manny Angeles of the
Commission on Higher Education also on Monday advised students with
coughs and colds to put off their returning to schools. This way,
they prevent contracting the A(H1N1), or they can help prevent its
spread if their flu-like symptoms turn out to be the so-called swine
Angeles added that this was part
of the precautionary measures being implemented in schools today.
He said the Commission would let
the school administrators decide on suspending classes, if a student
One school in Marikina City,
Metro Manila, did just that on Monday. The Our Lady of Perpetual
College in Barangay Concepcion suspended classes until June 26 after
a student showed flu-like symptoms. No additional details were
disclosed as of press time.
With James Konstantin Galvez
And Francis Earl A. Cueto