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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A TOTAL of 61 cases of Influenza A(H1N1) virus infection were recorded in Western Visayas from May 18 to August 1, according to the Department of Health (DoH-6).

The cases were confirmed by laboratory results from the Research Institute for

Tropical Medicine (RITM).

The DoH data said the patients ranged from a 9-month-old baby to a 54-year-old adult. The median age of the patients is 20 years old.

Most of the cases belonged to the 10 to 19 age group. A total of 33 patients, or 54%, are male.

Ninety three percent (94%) are Filipinos while the rest are Americans and Japanese.

A total of 30 cases (49%) have traveled outside the country while the remaining cases were close contacts of confirmed Influenza A H1N1 cases.

Of the patients who traveled to countries affected with A(H1N1) flu, 12 cases (40%)

came from United States, 5 cases (17%) from China, 4 cases (14%) from Japan, 3 cases (10%) from United Kingdom, 2 cases (7%) from Saudi Arabia while 4 patients came from Australia, Panama, Singapore and Sweden.

Majority of A(H1N1) cases in Western Visayas were recorded in Iloilo province (15) and Roxas City (13).

Bacolod City has 12 cases while Iloilo City has 11.

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By Francis Allan L. Angelo 

THE number of dengue cases in Western Visayas this year continues to rise, exceeding last year’s cases, the Department of Health (DoH-6) said.

Latest data from the DoH said a total of 1,675 dengue cases were reported in the region since January to July 26, 2009, which is 160 cases higher than the 1,515 cases for the January to July 18 period.

Almost half of the dengue cases are children 1-10 years old.

The DoH said the latest number of cases this year is 26% higher than last year’s recorded cases.

The number of fatalities also increased to 26, mostly from the cities of Bacolod and Iloilo.

The total dengue cases in city and province of Iloilo totaled 927 with 16 deaths.

Negros Occidental has 533 cases with two fatalities; Capiz (93 cases, 1 death); Aklan (53 cases); Guimaras (40 cases, 1 death); Antique (9 cases).

Meanwhile, a total of 55 persons in Western Visayas were found positive for Influenza A(H1N1) virus. Of the total cases, 51 are Filipinos including 29 male and 26 female. Most of the patients are 10-19 years old.

Twenty-nine patients contracted the virus after returning from trips abroad.

Negros Occidental and Capiz have 15 A(H1N1) flu cases while Iloilo City has 13 cases.

Bacolod City has 12 cases, Iloilo province 10 while Aklan and Antique have 1 case each.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Iloilo will tackle the request of Gov. Niel Tupas Sr. to declare a state of “imminent public health hazard” in the province because of the A(H1N1) flu pandemic.

Citing the governor’s letter, Vice Gov. Rolex Suplico said the declaration will empower the executive department to release P1.3 million for the purchase of protective medical gears.

The money will be taken from the 5% calamity fund of the 2009 budget.

Tupas cited in his letter request DBM-DILG Circular No. 2003-02 which allows the release of the calamity fund in preparation for disasters provided a state of imminent danger is first declared.

Suplico said the gears will be used by health workers in the province in responding to suspected A(H1N1) cases.

The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) the executive will buy includes particulate respirator (N95), eye protection, gown and sterile gloves.

“It is apparent that the pandemic is not slowing down and there is a need to adopt measures to enhance the preparedness of our health professionals to handle the ‘swine flu’ in case it continues to spread in Iloilo,” Tupas said in his letter to the SP.

Suplico said he has reservations with Tupas’ request because Iloilo might be the first province to declare a state of imminent danger.

“There are only 22 confirmed cases in Iloilo with no fatality. Quezon City did not declare a state of imminent danger after an employee of the House of Representatives died of A(H1N1) flu,” Suplico said.

The governor said the equipment can be used for other epidemics that might recur such as SARS and Avian Flu.

by Tara Yap

EIGHT more persons tested positive for Influenza A(H1N1) virus in Western Visayas, the Department of Health (DoH) said.

As of July 6, a total of 22 positive A(H1N1) flu cases were recorded in the region.

DoH-6 said six of the eight new cases came from Iloilo City and two from Bacolod City.

The health department said four of the patients traveled outside to countries with A(H1N1) flu cases. The remaining four patients are students.

DoH 6 said the four students are under home quarantine and medication.

Two new cases under observation (CUOs) were also recorded as of Monday. One CUO is from Iloilo City and the other from Iloilo province.

This brings the total of CUOs in Western Visayas to 93, with 36 negative cases and 35 pending test results from the Research Institure for Tropical Medicine.

DoH-6 said 14 of the 22 confirmed A(H1N1) cases have recovered.

Meanwhile, health and local officials in Aklan are mum on the province’s first A(H1N1) flu case. 

The DoH-6 website bulletin confirmed the first positive case in Aklan province.

The patient is a 12-year-old Taiwanese who entered the country through a China Airlines flight that landed at the Kalibo International Airport.

Authorities at the airport noticed that she was exhibiting flu-like symptoms.  Instead of spending a vacation in the famous beach destination of Boracay, she underwent medical supervision until she tested positive for A(H1N1) flu.

by Tara Yap

FOUR more persons tested positive for Influenza A(H1N1) virus in Western Visayas as of July 3, according to the Department of Health (DoH-6).

This brings the total positive A(H1N1) flu cases in the region to 14.

The DoH-6 said the four new positive cases were in close contact with the high school student of Assumption Iloilo who earlier tested positive for the flu. 

Contract tracing performed by DOH 6 personnel confirmed that the two cases originated in Roxas City while the other two were found in the Catholic school in Iloilo City.

Classes were suspended in Assumption school June 23 when the female student, , who hails from Roxas City, tested positive for A(H1N1) flu. 

School officials immediately suspended classes upon suggestion of DoH 6 and the Iloilo City government. 

DOH 6 said that all four are now under home quarantine and medication. The patients no longer exhibit flu-like symptoms.

In addition, four new cases under observation (CUOs) were recorded as of Friday.  Two came from Bacolod City, one from Iloilo City and another one from Iloilo province.

This brings the total of CUOs in Western Visayas to 91 with 29 negative cases and 28 pending cases.

Meanwhile, classes will reopen in Assumption Iloilo this July 6 after the 10-day suspension.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

AN elementary school in Bacolod City suspended classes Tuesday after 122 Grade 3 pupils caught fever.

The St. John’s Institute in Hilado Extension, Bacolod City suspended Grade 3 classes until Wednesday after several pupils started getting sick last Friday.

Majority of the sick students failed to come to school on Monday.

The Bacolod City Health Office has advised the school to monitor the conditions of the pupils, who may have been infected with influenza A (H1N1) virus. The school has also disinfected the campus.

Dr. Salome Biñas, city health officer, said they have yet to determine if any of the pupils had history of travel to a country with confirmed A (H1N1) cases

There are four confirmed A(H1N1) flu cases in Bacolod City.

Meanwhile, the Iloilo City government will buy flu vaccines to be distributed to City Hall workers amid the rising cases of Influenza A(H1N1) in the country.

Mayor Jerry Treñas said they will purchase the vaccines once the stocks arrive from Argentina this month.

The vaccines will be given free to city hall employees. The remaining stocks will be distributed to barangay officials and other local officials.

The city government was supposed to bid out the vaccines but supply was running short after the World Health Organization declared a A(H1N1) flu pandemic.

“When the stocks arrive, we will decide how much we will purchase. We will give the vaccines to workers who want to get a shot,” Treñas said.

A seaman from Jaro district was the first confirmed A(H1N1) case in Iloilo City.

A student of Assumption-Iloilo, who is a native of Roxas City, also tested positive for the flu.

The third confirmed case is an overseas Filipino worker in Iloilo who came from Saudi Arabia.

The Department of Health said the total confirmed A(H1N1) flu cases in Western Visayas remain at 10 with 83 cases under observation. (With reports from abs-cbnnews.com)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A 9-YEAR-OLD girl was infected with Influenza A(H1N1) virus after close contact with an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Capiz  who also contracted the flu.

The girl is the 10th positive A(H1N1) case recorded in Western Visayas as of June 29, according to the Department of Health (DoH-6).

The DoH-6 said in its official website that the girl had close contact with the 38-year-old female OFW who earlier tested positive for the virus.

The patient is now under medication while her close family contacts have been told to monitor themselves for flu-like symptoms.

Eight positive A(H1N1) cases have been discharged from the hospital while the two remaining cases in Capiz are still under medication.

Two new cases under observation (CUOs) were reported to DoH-6, bringing to 83 the total number of CUOs reported from May 18 to June 29, 2009.

Fifty six CUOs have pending laboratory results while seventeen have negative results.

Iloilo has the highest number of CUOs with 41, Negros Occidental (25), Capiz (11), Aklan (4) and Antique (2).

Bacolod City recorded the highest number of positive A(H1N1) case with 4, Capiz (3), while Iloilo City, Oton in Iloilo and Talisay City in Negros Occidental have 1 case each.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo and Tara Yap

 

A CATHOLIC elementary and high school in Iloilo City suspended its classes after one of its students tested positive for Influenza A(H1N1) virus.

Assumption School along General Luna Street sent home its students past 1pm Tuesday after the Department of Health (DoH-6) confirmed that one of its students contracted A(H1N1) flu.

The female student, the seventh confirmed A(H1N1) patient in Western Visayas, is a native of Roxas City.

She complained of fever when she went home to Roxas City over the weekend. She was found positive for the flu based on her swab test from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.

Dr. Jessie Glen Alonsabe, DoH-6 regional epidemiologist, said in a press conference with Mayor Jerry Treñas that the patient went home to Roxas City. She is presently confined in a private hospital.

Alonsabe said they are conducting contact tracing of persons who got close to the patient. They are also verifying whether the patient traveled abroad.

The DoH suggested to Sister Fidelis Estrada, Assumption School principal, to immediately suspend their classes for 10 days.

Alonsabe said the suspension will immediately allow health authorities to conduct contact tracing and for the school to help monitor the health status of their students.

Assumption administration officials met after the press conference to discuss DoH’s suggestion.

Parents who heard the news flocked the Assumption campus to fetch their children. Before they were released, school officials held a briefing with the pupils and students regarding the positive A(H1N1) case.

Iloilo City Councilor Joe Espinosa III was one of the concerned parents who rushed to Assumption Iloilo after hearing the news.

Espinosa, who has three children enrolled in the Catholic school, handed out masks to other parents and carried a rubbing alcohol as disinfectant.

Asked if he is alarmed, Espinosa was quick to say that he is not. “DOH has assured that this is a milder form of virus.”

The councilor urged the public to take extra precautionary measures such as proper hand washing and cough and sneezing etiquette to avoid catching the flu.

Other parents were concerned why their children were gathered inside the air-conditioned room for the briefing which could increase their risk of exposure to the virus.

The influx of parents and nannies who rushed to the Catholic school caused a major traffic along Gen. Luna Street from 11am until 1:30pm.

Around noontime, the school sent out letters advising parents that classes in elementary and high school levels were suspended starting Tuesday and will resume July 6.

The letter also advised the parents to let their children stay at home for three days as a precautionary measure.

Assumption school is located across Iloilo Central Elementary School which has more than 2,000 students.

Treñas said there is no need to panic because DoH has medicines for the flu which is considered a mild strain.

Treñas urged the public to observe proper hygienic practices to prevent the virus from spreading.

Western Visayas has now 50 cases under observation and 7 positive cases. The referral hospitals are the Western Visayas Medical Center in Iloilo City, Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Hospital in Bacolod City, other government hospitals in the region and all other private hospitals.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THREE of the six patients who contracted Influenza A(H1N1) virus have been discharged from their respective hospitals.

Dr. Jessie Glen Alonsabe, regional epidemiologist of the Department of Health (DoH-6), said the three remaining A(H1N1) patients are about to finish their medication.

Alonsabe said the patients only contracted mild cases of A(H1N1) flu.

The latest positive A(H1N1) case in Western Visayas was a 20-year-old American missionary in Bacolod City. The missionary arrived June 9 and showed flu-like symptoms June 14 but was discharged from the hospital after showing signs of improvement.

Since May 18, DoH-6 has recorded 50 cases under observation (CUOs). A total of 17 patients found negative for the flu while 6 tested positive for the virus.

The test results of the remaining patients are still pending with the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).

Alonsabe advised the public to check if their visitors traveled abroad, particularly from areas with confirmed A(H1N1) cases.

He also urged the public to maintain cleanliness of surroundings and observe proper personal hygiene.

The DoH central office earlier said 80% of the 428 A(H1N1) cases, or 339 patients, have recovered from the flu.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE third and fourth quarters of 2009 are critical periods for the tourism sector in Western Visayas amid the Influenza A(H1N1) pandemic.

Edwin Trompeta, regional director of the Department of Tourism in Western Visayas, said the gains of the tourism sector in the first two quarters might be affected because of the pandemic.

“We noted growth in tourist arrivals in the region, particularly Boracay Island, in the first and second quarters of this year. We see the third and fourth quarters as very critical because of the flu,” Trompeta said.

Trompeta said traditional tourism markets such as the US and Europe are also being cautious because of the A(H1N1) flu.

Boracay was the second top tourist destination in the country with 158,030 arrivals from January to March 2009.

The island resort also drew the second highest number of foreign tourists of 63,903.

Cebu was the top tourist destination in the country according to a DoT report for the first four months of the year.

Overall, the volume of domestic tourists visiting key destinations grew faster at 13% while foreign arrivals recorded a 4% increase in the first quarter.

Trompeta said that among the island-resorts, Boracay remains the top tourist drawer with tourist arrivals growing by an average of 6% annually for the past decade.

Boracay boosted its room capacity with the opening of the Shangri-la’s Boracay Resort and Spa, a high-end 217-room resort on the island.

“We are hoping that the pandemic will slow down and have no effect on the tourism sector which continues to make positive ratings despite the global economic recession,” Trompeta said.

The DoH has been closely watching the situation in Boracay in coordination with the local government unit of Aklan and Malay town.

The DoH and DoT recently conducted an orientation on A(H1N1) flu to help businesses and other stakeholders respond to the pandemic.

Latest data from the Department of Health said 14 cases under observation for A(H1N1) flu were recorded in Western Visayas.

The total confirmed cases jumped to 6 patients after an 20-year-old American missionary in Bacolod City tested positive for the A(H1N1) virus.

The missionary arrived June 9 and showed flu-like symptoms June 14.

The patient has been discharged from the hospital after showing signs of improvement.

Since May 18, DoH-6 has recorded 43 cases under observation (CUOs). A total of 14 patients found negative for the flu while 6 tested positive for the virus.

The test results of the remaining 23 patients are still pending with the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).

Iloilo recorded the highest number of CUOs with 24, Negros Occidental (15), Aklan (2) and Capiz (2).

Of the total CUOs recorded, 35 are Filipinos and 8 foreigners including 21 males and 22 females. The age of the CUOs ranges from 2 to 89 years old, the DoH said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo and Tara C. Yap

 

LOCAL and health officials are monitoring a barangay in Iloilo City where the first positive A(H1N1) case in the city was detected.

The Department of Health (DoH) said the first A(H1N1) flu patient in Iloilo City is a 38-year-old seaman from Jaro district.

The patient traveled from Germany and stopped over Hong Kong before arriving in the country June 1. He showed flu-like symptoms June 9 and was brought to Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC) for check-up.

The patient’s throat swab tested positive for A(H1N1) virus, according to results from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM). He is now in isolation at the WVMC.

Two more positive cases were detected in Bacolod City, the DoH said.

The patients are both males, ages 7 and 8 years old, who came from the United States. They are isolated at the Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Hospital in Bacolod City.

The patients in Bacolod City have completed their medication and do not show any sign of symptoms anymore. They will be released from home treatment soon if the results of the second swab turn negative.

Since May 1, Western Visayas has recorded 4 positive A(H1N1) cases. The total A(H1N1) infections in the country totaled 311 cases.

Dr. Jessie Glenn Alonsabe, DoH regional epidemiologist, said close monitoring and surveillance are being conducted in the areas where the three new cases were detected.

Alonsabe said the whole family members of the patient were advised to be admitted in the hospital or undergo home quarantine.

“Although they were found positive for the virus, they all showed mild symptoms of fever, cough and sore throat.

Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog said the city government has activated the Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERTS) to help in the contact tracing and surveillance.

Dr. Urminico Baronda, city health officer, said barangay officials and City Health Office (CHO) personnel are helping trace the persons who came in close contact with seaman.

“There should be no cause for alarm because we are joining hands with the DoH and the City Health Office in containing the virus and prevent a community outbreak. As the statistics show, the mortality rate of A(H1N1) virus is only 0.5% worldwide,” Mabilog said.

The barangay captain of the Iloilo City village where the first A(H1N1) flu patient resided said they learned of the positive case through Dr. Teresita Chu of the CHO.

The barangay official said they met city health officials Wednesday morning to discuss the proper measures to be taken.

He said they will fully cooperate with CHO and the DoH to closely monitor the community.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the barangay hall was transformed into a monitoring station by CHO and DOH 6 personnel.

Any person who came in close contact with the patient is advised to report to health officials at the barangay hall as soon as they exhibit flu-like symptoms. 

Alonsabe said the public should observe hygienic practices such as washing of hands and cough and sneezing etiquette to prevent the virus from spreading.

Alonsabe said the local chief executives in the cities of Bacolod and Iloilo and their respective health officers were informed and provided technical and logistical assistance to prevent community level spread of the flu.

Baronda said the DoH has enough Tamiflu which can help cure the A(H1N1) flu.

“The DoH has the Tamiflu stocks because we are controlling the dispensation of the medicine to avoid the virus from becoming resistant to the drug,” Baronda said.

A recent memorandum from the DoH central office ordered drug stores in the country not to dispense Tamiflu capsules to buyers sans doctor’s prescription.

Alonsabe said the DoH central office also issued a memorandum requiring all private and public hospitals to put isolation areas for A(H1N1) patients.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Iloilo City government warned business establishments not to abuse the high demand for facial masks and alcohol after health officials confirmed the first A(H1N1) case in the city.

OIC City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog said they noted a spike in demand for alcohol and facial masks since the outbreak of A(H1N1) flu in other parts of the country.

“We hope that businesses in the city will not take advantage of the situation by hoarding supplies of masks and alcohol or jacking up the prices of the said materials,” Mabilog said.

He also advised the public to stay away from crowded areas for the meantime while health officials try to contain the virus from spreading.

“If we can help it, maybe we can stay away from public places, especially if we suffer from cough or cold. If we manifest flu-like symptoms, we should seek medical help immediately. Also, let us observe proper hand washing and coughing and sneezing etiquette as advised by the Department of Health (DoH),” Mabilog said.   

Earlier, major pharmacies in Iloilo City said they ran out of flu vaccines after A(H1N1) cases were confirmed in the country.

 Dr. Jessie Glen Alonsabe, DoH-6 regional epidemiologist, said there is no vaccine against A(H1N1) flu yet.

“The vaccines available in the market could help against seasonal flu but not A(H1N1) flu. The genetic makeup of the A(H1N1) virus is different from the virus causing seasonal flu,” Alonsabe said.

Alonsabe said the DoH-6 has no flu vaccine stocks “because flu immunization is not part of our regular program.”

“Not all of us should be immunized against flu. Flu vaccination is advisable only to persons at risk such as young children, the elderly and persons with underlying medical problems such as those with heart complications. But they should get medical guidance from their doctors before vaccination,” Alonsabe said.

Dr. Urminico Baronda said flu vaccines are effective for a specific year only because manufacturers modify the strains depending on the mutation of the virus.

“If you are immunized either in January or May, the vaccine will only be effective until December,” Baronda said.

Alonsabe said persons who survive A(H1N1) flu are immune to the virus for at least 6 months.

“If we base it on the seasonal flu, we usually suffer from flu twice a year. Somehow, the pattern for the A(H1N1) virus could be the same,” Alonsabe said.

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