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Palace not alarmed by swine flu surge

By Christine Avendano, TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 07:07:00 07/04/2009

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

MANILA, Philippines ? The Philippines? sudden surge to the top ranks among the countries with the highest cases of the Influenza A (H1N1) virus did not surprise Malacańang, a Palace official said.

?We have been very transparent in reporting the A(H1N1) incidents. Number two, we have been very aggressive in contact tracking, and third, we have been very aggressive in our monitoring and reporting these cases. Those are the reasons we emerged high,? Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said in a briefing.

According to the World Health Organization, the Philippines now ranks seventh among the countries with confirmed cases of A (H1N1) virus infection.

Echoing Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Remonde, however, said this should not alarm the government and the public.

?This is nothing to be extremely alarmed about because after all, there is only one death in the Philippines compared to five or more in other countries, which reported less,? he said.

Remonde added that a growing number of people had started practicing proper hygiene because of the government?s transparency in reporting the number of people infected with the virus.

?If there is any good thing that has come out of this, it is that the Filipino people became more health-conscious. They have become sanitation-conscious,? he said.

More than 1,700 people have tested positive for the swine flu virus in the country. But most have already recovered.

Sen. Rodolfo Biazon Friday said his 17-year-old grandson was also infected by the flu virus but they only found out when the latter had already recovered.

Biazon said his grandson Mikey is a student of De la Salle-College of St. Benilde on Taft Avenue, one of the first schools in the country to report cases of the A(H1N1) virus.

2nd grandson

Biazon said his grandson was brought to a private hospital last Sunday after he had fever, cough and colds and was prescribed paracetamol and the Tamiflu medicine.

On the same day, his other grandson 18-year-old Carlo, son of Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon, was also brought to the hospital for the same symptoms. Carlo is also from La Salle-College of St. Benilde.

Biazon said his two grandsons were taken to the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine for testing on Monday.

But it was only Friday that they found out that it was only Mikey who tested positive of the A(H1N1) virus.

Biazon said that when he talked to RITM doctors he found out that the institute was the only testing facility of the virus in the country.

RITM backlog

He also raised concern over the fact that the RITM was swamped with many specimens for testing because from a mere 48 hours, test results now take five to seven days.

At the Senate, an employee was also found positive for the swine flu virus days after recovering from the illness, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said Friday.

Enrile said the employee whom he did not identify worked in the Senate Economic Planning Office.

?There is no reason to be alarmed. No, there is no need to worry. Just drink calamansi juice,? the 85-year-old Enrile repeatedly said.

At the Sandiganbayan, its Fifth Division continued its daily operation although one female employee tested positive for the virus.

Five other people in the office were told to go home after exhibiting flu-like symptoms, according to Sandiganbayan Executive Clerk of Court Renato Bocar.

Bocar said the woman, who was pregnant, got ill on June 25 and was confined in a hospital. She was discharged three days later but still decided to go on self-quarantine for five days before reporting for work on Wednesday.

It was only on Thursday that the laboratory result confirmed she was positive for the virus. With reports from Gil C. Cabacungan Jr. and Edson Tandoc Jr.

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