Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III today reported seven more positive cases of Influenza A (H1N1) in the country bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 29.

One of the six new confirmed cases is a 20 year-old male international graduate student of the De La Salle University, who is a contact of the first positive case at DLSU. This student also arrived in the country on May 12.  On June 2, he manifested mild respiratory symptoms and consulted a health facility where he was tested for the presence of A (H1N1).  RITM confirmed the test this morning and he is now confined in the health facility.

The other six cases are Filipinos who all have a history of travel to the US.  Three belong to the same family: two females aged 12 and 16; and an 18-year old male.  The other three include a 22 year-old male, a 33 year-old pregnant woman and a 52 year old-female.  All of the six show only mild flu-like symptoms and are now being observed and managed in health facilities.

Duque reiterated that the 10-day suspension of classes is applicable only for the students, faculty and staff of DLSU Manila due to the confirmation of at least one A(H1N1) case.  He reminded all other schools in the country to be on alert for possible cases of A (H1N1) particularly for students and staff who have a history of travel within the last 10 days in affected countries and who are showing flu-like symptoms.

In reaction to a possible Pandemic Level 6 declaration by the World Health Organization, Duque, Chair of the ASEAN + 3 Health Ministers Meeting on A (H1N1) held in Bangkok, Thailand last month, emphasized that this move should be made in the most careful and prudent approach voicing the joint view of the ASEAN + 3 countries for WHO to also consider the severity of the disease and not just the geographic range of the virus.

“We do not want a disproportionately destructive global scare from a virus that has thus far only shown mild symptoms in most of the cases that we are seeing in affected countries.   We do not need at this at a time of great economic crisis and uncertainty.  But at the same time, we should not also underestimate the potential of the virus to become more severe in the future,” Duque said.

In the country, Duque stressed that in all of the 29 confirmed cases, patients manifested only with mild symptoms reflecting the general trend and behavior of the virus in other affected countries.

“With further characterization of the virus in our local cases, if we see that A (H1N1) poses no severe threat and is self-limited in most cases, we may be seeing a shift in our control strategy to outpatient and home management of patients showing only mild symptoms.  This is already being done in countries like Mexico and the US which already have sustained community transmission,” Duque said.

Meanwhile, as the world braces for the WHO’s possible announcement of Pandemic Level 6, Duque reminded other government agencies as well as the business and private sector to consider implementing their business contingency plans.  

In 2006, DOH already convened the heads of major business groups and members of the private sector to help them craft their own business contingency plans during the height of the Avian Flu scare. This Plan will ensure that commercial activities and essential government and non- government services will continue even during a pandemic.

Since May 1, 2009, the DOH has monitored a total of 414 CUOs.  Of these, 29 are positive A(H1N1) cases, 47 have pending laboratory results, and 338 are negative for A(H1N1) and have been discarded.  There are 13 new Cases Under Observation (CUOs) today.

In their latest report, the World Health Organization reported 1,863 new cases and 2 new deaths.  There are now a total of 19,273 cases and 117 deaths from 66 reporting countries.  Bulgaria, Egypt, Lebanon and Nicaragua are the newest countries with confirmed A (H1N1) cases