SARS: ONLY 3 RP CASES, NO EMERGENCY

Manila, April 29, 2003 -- The Philippines has three, not four, cases of 
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). And there is no SARS "national 
emergency."

This was announced yesterday by President Arroyo as she corrected the 
statements of her own spokesman and health secretary at the graduation 
ceremonies on professionalism and terrorism of the second batch of barangay 
tanods in Metro Manila at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.

Arroyo said a reported case of SARS in Samar, which was confirmed by Health 
Secretary Manuel Dayrit, turned out to be wrong because the person was not 
suffering from pneumonia, as shown by an x-ray conducted by a regional 
hospital in Eastern Visayas.

The Samar case was removed from the SARS list yesterday.

Arroyo said the only SARS cases in the Philippines were that of a German 
national who has been cured, and Mauricio and Adela Catalon of Alcala, 
Pangasinan, who both died.

She said the neighbors of the Catalons in barangay Vacante in Alcala, 
Pangasinan have been cleared and the quarantine on the entire barangay has 
been lifted. She said four relatives of the Catalons are still under 
quarantine.

Arroyo also refuted the statement of presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye 
last Sunday that there is a SARS national emergency, saying that such a tag 
could only be applied to Beijing and Guangdong in China, Hong Kong, and 
Toronto in Canada.

China, as of Monday, has 139 deaths from SARS and 3,106 cases. Hong Kong 
has 138 dead and 1,557 cases. Toronto had 20 deaths as of Saturday.

Bunye explained: "The use of the term 'national emergency' may have been 
inappropriate but the fact is we are facing a serious national concern 
which has to be addressed by all sectors, both government and private."

He said his use of the term "national emergency" was "only descriptive." 
"Kung baga, hindi iyan yung formal, because a formal national emergency is 
declared by an act of Congress. We used the term para sabihin lang na 
talagang grabe ang sitwasyon."

He said Taiwan's move to ban all incoming flights from Hong Kong, China, 
Singapore, and Canada is "an extreme measure that would require the 
coordination of many countries."

Arroyo said mandatory quarantines will be enforced as Dayrit deems 
necessary, which will be implemented by local officials, including barangay 
tanods.

"Kahit na tayo ay wala pa sa state of national emergency, there is no room 
for half-measures on SARS. It is prudent to anticipate the worst scenario 
now so we will not wake up to a crisis that is much bigger than we 
imagined. We don't want any severe jolts and surprises," she said.

Arroyo said barangay tanods should help in contact tracing and in cleaning 
up their neighborhoods.

She said government will hold a SARS Consciousness and Clean-Up Awareness 
Week from May 5 to 9.

She said she saw on television that the place where SARS came from was very 
dirty. "Marumi yung lugar. Napakalaki ang koneksyon ng kalinisan at 
kaligtasan sa SARS," she also said.

She said she will discuss with Asean leaders during the SARS summit today 
how Asean member countries could work to control the spread of the disease.

Jean Marc Olive, WHO representative to the Philippines, told the diplomatic 
community that based on assessment, there is yet no need to wear masks in 
the country.

Dayrit said the Samar x-ray technician identified as "JP" was "responding 
very well to antibiotics" and was set to be released today from the Eastern 
Visayas Regional Hospital in Tacloban City.

"Although we said that JP was a SARS case last Friday, the review of her 
x-ray showed that it was not pneumonia," Dayrit said.

JP, a 46-year-old domestic helper who arrived from Hong Kong early this 
month, was admitted to a private hospital in Samar last April 25.

"She is in a stable condition, is ambulatory but with a recurring cough," 
Dayrit said.

An x-ray technician identified only as "RT" and who is being observed at 
the San Lazaro Hospital since April 21 is improving and responding to 
antibiotics. She developed fever and body pains on her first day of 
admission up to the third day. On her fourth day of confinement, her fever 
and body pains were gone.

Jennifer, granddaughter of Mauricio Catalon who took care of him before his 
death, remains without fever, according to doctors at the Research 
Institute for Tropical Medicine in Alabang, Muntinlupa.

Alcala Mayor Juanito Collado said local residents have decided to forego 
fiesta celebrations on Thursday as a precautionary measure.

The DOH has acquired a chemical that will make it easier to detect if blood 
samples have the coronavirus, said Dr. Consortia Lim-Quizon, officer in 
charge of the DOH National Epidemiology Center.

The chemical, called the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) primer, provides 
an extremely sensitive means for amplifying small quantities of DNA without 
using a living organism.

Quizon said this means there will be no need for government to send blood 
samples of suspected cases to Japan, like what it did in the case of Adela 
and Mauricio Catalon.

PCR is commonly used in medical and biological research laboratories for a 
variety of tasks, such as detection of hereditary diseases, identification 
of genetic fingerprints, cloning of genes and paternity testing.

Officials installed a machine which will determine a person's temperature, 
at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Edgar Manda, MIAA general manager Edgardo Manda, said two or more such 
units, each costing $60,000, are expected to come in two week's time.

The Philippine Airlines management is giving free masks to its passengers.

Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas said the government is still awaiting 
results of laboratory tests on four OFWs in Hong Kong reported to be 
afflicted with SARS.

There have been reports that one domestic helper - "JC" from Leyte - died 
of SARS the other day at the Queen Mary Hospital in Hong Kong.

Sto. Tomas said she also received reports that two more Filipino maids in 
Hong Kong and a Filipino engineer contracted the disease. These cases are 
also being verified.

Health authorities in General Santos said a reported SARS case - son of a 
Filipino-Chinese businessman who arrived from Canada, turned out to be 
typhoid fever.

The Coast Guard denied the cargo vessel M/V Hub Trader permission to dock 
at the Manila South Harbor on Friday after one of its crew showed some SARS 
symptoms.

The ship arrived from Thailand.

The crewman was found to be suffering from acute tonsillitis.(Malaya)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2003  by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE