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UST, FEU defer opening as swine flu precaution

June 5, 2009 3:14pm
MANILA, Philippines - The University of Santo Tomas and Far Eastern University have postponed Monday’s opening of classes as a precautionary measure against A(H1N1) that has sickened three De La Salle University students with the flu virus and shuttered temporarily the campus.

UST has moved its June 8 school opening to June 15 and FEU, on June 17.

The two universities’ decision to postpone opening of classes came after four more people were confirmed infected Friday with the swine flu virus, raising to 33 the total number of infections.

In an announcement on its Web site (www.ust.edu.ph), the UST said the one week will let students, staff and faculty who just returned from abroad go on voluntary quarantine.

"Classes in the Elementary and the High School Departments are suspended and will resume on Monday, June 15, 2009," read the announcement signed by UST Secretary General Fr. Isidro Abaño.

The announcement also said the First Semester of this Academic Year will thus end on Wednesday, October 21, 2009.

It added late enrollment of students will be accommodated from June 15 to 20, 2009.

On the other hand, the UST required all students, support staff, faculty members and administrators who arrived from travel abroad on June 1, 2009 onwards to submit their names with the corresponding University ID numbers to the UST Health Service.

They can call 7314311 or text to 09276771346.

FEU said it postponed its school opening to give way for the general cleaning of the campus to ensure a virus-free environment.

The University of the Philippines has postponed Tuesday’s Welcome Assembly for incoming first-year students. It will announce later when it would be held.

Earlier this week, De La Salle University canceled classes after two of its students were found positive for A(H1N1).

Third DLSU student hit by virus

The Department of Health said the new cases are two siblings (ages 9 and 11), another student of the De La Salle University (third case in the school), and one who arrived in the country last Monday.

As people scramble to get tested for the virus as the “first indication" appears, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said only those who would qualify as case under observation (CUO) would be tested and would receive treatment for free.

Since May 1, 2009 the DOH has recorded 450 possible cases of the mutant virus, of which 33 are confirmed infected, 76 are awaiting laboratory tests results, while 341 people have been discharged. As of 5 June, 36 new cases are under observation, Duque said.

In a telephone interview with GMANews.TV earlier in the day, Dr. Eric Tayag, chief of the DOH epidemiology center, said 14 of those originally infected with the virus have been cured and discharged from hospitals.

Even though the rest of those infected with the virus are responding well to treatment, Tayag said the public must continue to take precautionary measures against the malady, which has already afflicted more than 19, 000 people in 66 countries.

Those infected in the Philippines had shown “mild" symptoms, Tayag said, adding that the public could do best by observing good personal hygiene and to report possible indications of the disease to Health authorities.

“Any ‘over-reaction’ is acceptable at this time, if only to alert people, kasi 90 million tayo. ‘Over-reaction’ should reach all 90 million people so that they will know what to do," Tayag said when asked whether there has been an over-reaction to the spread of the novel flu.

He said he doesn’t believe the government has overreacted because all the steps it has done so far were “according to plan."

DLSU suspended classes from June 4 to 14 after two cases of A(H1N1) infection were confirmed there Thursday.

Although the mortality rate of those infected with A(H1N1) around the world is less than one percent, Tayag said people should be on guard because, unlike the more deadly dengue fever, A(H1N1) is transmitted from people to people.

“Most countries around the world mild lang talaga sa ngayon kasi everybody’s trying to contain it," he said, adding that no one is immune from the disease because A(H1N1) is a new flu stain.

Tayag said the DOH has not been disclosing the identities or nationalities of the people infected with the disease upon the request of their families. He said the agency is also not keen on publicizing where the patients were taken to avoid undue panic and possible avoidance of these areas.

“Papano kung nasaksak ka, e di mamimili ka pa [ng ospital]. Kasi pag nalaman nilang nandiyan, iiwasan [What if someone was stabbed, he might choose the hospital he’ll go to. When people know someone infected is in a certain hospital, they tend to avoid it]," he said, lamenting the seeming aversion to the La Salle area. - Aie Balagtas See, Johanna Camille Sisante, and Mark Merueñas, GMANews.TV
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