Thursday, April 30, 2009

Latest DOH Update on the Swine Flu Virus Near-Pandemic As of April 25, 2009, 6:17pm

30 April 2009

This is the latest update from the new DOH website.  It consists of the statement read by Secretary Duque during the press conference earlier today:


Early this morning, the World Health Organization (WHO) raised the pandemic alert from Phase 4 to Phase 5 after seven more countries aside from Mexico and the United States confirmed cases of the novel swine influenza A (H1N1) virus bringing the total to 148 cases and 7 deaths.    In the Philippines, there has been no documented case or death due to the virus.

 Countries as of April 29 CasesDeaths 
 United States 91
 Mexico 26 7
 Canada 13 0
 United Kingdom 5 0
 Spain 4 0
 New Zealand 3 0
 Germany 3 0
 Israel 2 0
 Australia 1 0
 TOTAL 148 7

Source:  WHO Swine Influenza Update

Phase 5 means that there is now “human to human transmission of the virus causing sustained community outbreaks in at least two countries in one WHO region”.   In this scenario, it is expected that air travel can further spread illness thus increasing the risk of a full-scale pandemic.  All countries are now expected to ready the full implementation of their Pandemic Response Plans 

Thus, today, I have convened a Command Conference with all the Directors of the Centers for Health Development and the DOH-retained Hospitals including all regional epidemiologists to discuss the readiness plans and command and control systems for an imminent pandemic. 

I am also calling for a meeting with the Chiefs of all private hospitals to coordinate with the DOH on how they can prepare and respond to possible cases of the Mexican Swine Flu which may come to their attention. 

We will also collaborate with the business sector and members of the pharmaceutical sector on how they can contribute to the National Pandemic Preparedness and Response Plan.  This early, we are tapping the local pharmaceutical industry to help us ensure the availability of Oseltamivir when the need arises. 

We maintain that there are no current travel restrictions to Mexico, United States and other affected countries.  Travelers are strongly advised however, to reconsider trips unless extremely necessary. It is also prudent for incoming passengers to monitor their health status especially if they came from an affected country.  

Note the onset of fever and other flu-like symptoms up to 10 days after arrival and immediately consult a physician.  Hospitals and medical personnel should report cases of suspected cases of Mexican swine flu to the DOH Hotline at tel. nos. 711-1001 and 711-1002. 

We reiterate that pork is safe to eat and that the Mexican Swine Flu is not transmitted via consumption of pork. As a precaution however, the national government through the Department of Agriculture has already issued a “temporary suspension of all hog and pork imports from afflicted zones’ while placing under heightened alert at all airports and seaports to prevent illegal imports. 

We also recommend the following personal protective measures:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands regularly with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze.  Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
You will note that the table supplied by the DOH indicated the US death toll at 0 instead of 1 which is unfortunate death of a 23-month old toddler in Texas yesterday. That death had been confirmed yesterday by Dr. Richard Besser of the US CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) as being swine flu related.

This is the video of the press conference from gmanews.tv:

More on this when I return.

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