JULY 3, 2009 (STAR) By Paolo Romero - President Arroyo checked out yesterday from the Asian Hospital in Muntinlupa City after two days of self-quarantine as a precautionary measure against the spread of the A(H1N1) flu virus.

The President went on self-quarantine last Tuesday after arriving from a 12-day trip to Japan, Colombia, Brazil, and Hong Kong Monday night.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said Mrs. Arroyo checked out of the hospital at 2 p.m. after doctors gave her a clean bill of health.

“She underwent certain check-ups while on quarantine and all the results were okay,” Remonde said. “She has returned to Malacañang.”

He said Mrs. Arroyo called him up to relay the news after she left the hospital.

He said Mrs. Arroyo will continue her rest at the Palace for a few more days by minimizing her appointments and public engagements, but would do her paperwork in her office.

“I think she’s just eager to work more in the Palace than in the hospital,” Remonde said.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said Mrs. Arroyo did some work while on self-imposed isolation at the Asian Hospital and conferred with her Cabinet by telephone.

RP overtakes Thailand, now 7th in H1N1 cases worldwide - WHO By Sheila Crisostomo Updated July 03, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The World Health Organization (WHO) reported yesterday that the Philippines had overtaken Thailand as having the most number of Influenza A(H1N1) cases in Southeast Asia.

In its Pandemic Update 56 report, the WHO said that as of July 1, Thailand had reported a total of 1,414 confirmed cases of A(H1N1) while the updated report of the Department of Health (DOH) showed that the Philippines had 1,709 cases as of June 27.

The DOH attributed the increased figures to aggressive contact tracing and surveillance system.

WHO noted that worldwide, the Philippines ranked seventh, with the United States in the top spot with 27,717 cases.

The US was followed by Mexico (8,680), Canada (7,983), United Kingdom (6,538), Chile (6,211), Australia (4,090), Philippines (1,709), Argentina (1,587), China (1,518), Japan (1,266), Thailand (1,414) and Japan (1,266).

WHO added that there are 77,201 cases worldwide, including 332 deaths.

Despite this situation, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that there was only “low level transmission” in Metro Manila.

Duque claimed that “as far as the geographical profile” of the cases is concerned, Metro Manila had registered 1,255 or 72 percent of the cases. Most of them are in Quezon City, Manila, Parañaque, Pasig and Makati.

He added other regions with the most number of cases are Calabarzon, Central Luzon and Eastern Visayas.

The DOH is currently focusing its anti-A(H1N1) strategy on mitigation or ensuring that infected individuals in serious condition and with underlying illnesses are given appropriate treatment.

The DOH no longer requires those suspected to be infected to undergo the 10-day quarantine period since the virus is mild.

Zamboanga City reports first case

Zamboanga City Mayor Celso Lobregat confirmed that a nine-year-old male pupil of Ateneo de Zamboanga University (AdZU) was infected with the Influenza A(H1N1) virus, the first patient of the disease in the city.

Lobregat urged people not to panic because the boy, whose identity was withheld, had recovered and even reported to school just before the confirmation of the swab testing arrived and confirmed his infection.

“When the confirmation of the laboratory test came the boy was already healed and has been reporting back to school,” Lobregat said.

He said the boy, an elementary student of AdZU, got in contact with a female visitor from Manila who showed symptoms of A(H1N1) last June 22.

Health officials said the girl, who passed the virus to the boy, manifested symptoms of the flu only after she arrived in Manila from Zamboanga.

“So that person immediately contacted that family whom she visited and it turned out the boy was sick and so they got the specimen, sent it to Manila and it proved to be positive,” Lobregat said.

Fr. Anthony Moreno, president of AdZU, said all the boy’s classmates have been placed under monitoring.

“Following the guidelines of the Department of Health there is no need yet to suspend the classes in that section,” Moreno said. “If they manifest the symptoms maybe (classes would be suspended).”

Moreno said the school is coordinating with health authorities to conduct contact tracing to monitor the people that have made contact with the boy.

He said the boy’s family was also given anti-flu medication.

Dr. Norvie Taruc, chief of the regional epidemiology surveillance unit, said this is the first case in Zamboanga.

Taruc said, however, they have already recorded about 17 suspected cases: two in Isabela City, Basilan; two in Zamboanga del Norte; another case in Zamboanga del Sur and the rest in Zamboanga City.

City Health Officer Dr. Rodelyn Agbulos said the city has established an isolation ward to prepare for more A(H1N1) cases.

“We are very prepared and the city is ready to assist any patient who might be infected with the virus,” Agbulos added. – With Roel Pareño

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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