May 31, 2009 in Baguio City
by LYN V. RAMO
BAGUIO CITY — The Cordillera surveillance on possible cases of people afflicted with the influenza A (H1N1) virus yielded 14 cases as of the last press briefing at the Department of Health (DOH) regional office here Friday afternoon. Two tested positive of the virus.
Earlier on Tuesday, there were only four cases under observation (COUs) in three unidentified provinces in the Cordillera.
Eight new cases on Thursday and another two additional CUOs resulted from an intensive surveillance and heightened awareness of the public, said Department of Health (DOH) Regional Director Myrna Cabotaje.
One case was confirmed Thursday and another tested positive Friday. Both are up and about and are fast recovering from the symptoms with no signs of fever as of Friday afternoon.
Of the 14 cases, three of the four earlier detected CUOs have tested negative, including two of four children CUOs. The 11-month baby earlier reported confined at the Pines Doctors’ Hospital and Medical Center here is among those found negative of the H1N1 virus.
Cabotaje said only one stayed in the hospital. “The trend is no fever, but all these either had a history of travel from foreign countries, or contact with the foreign nationals found positive of the H1N1 or influenza A,” said Cabotaje, obliging to media query on the second case who reportedly came in contact with the Taiwanese cases.
She said though, the DOH is probing the possibility that the H1N1 did not originate from the Taiwanese.
As this developed, DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III announced there are six new cases nationwide bringing to 14 the laboratory-confirmed persons afflicted with the virus.
Worldwide, the new flu strain in humans has affected 53 countries, with a total 15,5l0 confirmed cases and 99 deaths according to WHO data as of May 29.
Without mentioning the figure, Cabotaje said most of the CUO’s in the region are locals, with some foreign nationals, whose nationality and countries-of-origin she did not mention.
The intensive surveillance on some 50 suspected cases was an offshoot of the two Taiwanese who attended a wedding party in Zambales and tested positive of the H1N1 virus upon their return to Taiwan. Some of the CUOs in the Cordillera came in contact with the said Taiwanese.
Surveillance started with the CUOs volunteering to report in hospitals. These either have flu-like symptoms such as cough, fever and sore throat, with a history of travel to countries like the US and Mexico or a history of having contact with those who have been proven positive of the H1N1 virus within 10 days prior to the manifestation of the symptoms.
Cabotaje earlier this week called on the public to do self-monitoring for people who suspect they have contacted the virus that came from a combined strain of avian, swine and human flu.
With self-monitoring, the suspected patient may practice self-quarantine for 10 days until findings prove negative, Cabotaje said Tuesday morning.
“What is certain up to now is that disease infection is uncertain,” Cabotaje told Baguio-based press. Although the CUOs in the country show mild signs, DOH still encourages the public to be vigilant and report to health facilities once the flu-like symptoms are evident.
While encouraging the public to take the ordinary flu shots, the DOH frowns at self-medication. Duque expects an increase in confirmed cases in the nest few weeks.
In Benguet, Dr. Steven Piok, provincial health officer, created a task force and started a massive public orientation on H1N1 especially among health service providers. Kalinga also created a similar task force.
Baguio City Health Officer Dr. Florence Reyes has also included an orientation program for schools, especially those accepting foreign students.
Cabotaje also appealed to students, teachers and non-teaching staff coming from foreign countries to observe self-quarantine for 10 days upon arrival.# nordis.net