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Four Filipinos in Hong Kong found positive for swine flu

MANILA, Philippines - Four Filipinos who returned to Hong Kong from the Philippines last week have tested positive for the A(H1N1) virus. The infected Filipinos include a 15-year-old girl and her 8-year-old sister, a 28-year-old domestic helper and a 33-year-old contractual worker, the Philippine Consulate said. Vice Consul Val Roque told GMANews.TV that the Filipino siblings arrived in the Chinese territory on June 11 and were immediately brought to the Princess Margaret Hospital after exhibiting flu-like symptoms at the airport. “Both are doing fine at the hospital and are looking forward to their discharge on June 19," Roque said. Their mother, who tested negative for swine flu, is under medical observation at a separate facility but will be discharged on June 17. The family is visiting Hong Kong as tourists. The Filipino maid who hails from Kalinga province in northern Luzon returned to work in Hong Kong on June 10. Her new employer in Kowloon brought her to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital two days later for a check-up and she eventually tested positive for the virus. Roque said the maid would be discharged from the hospital next week and is expected to resume her household duties. The other Filipina, from Bulacan province, returned to the Chinese territory on June 13 but was intercepted at the Hong Kong airport after exhibiting flu-like signs. She is also confined at the Princess Margaret Hospital. As of June 15 there were eight confirmed cases of A(H1N1) in Bulacan. This is the third time Filipinos overseas have tested positive for the new flu strain after leaving the Philippines. The first case was in May involving Filipino-Japanese siblings who returned to Tokyo and the other one was a Filipina nurse who became Saudi Arabia’s first swine flu case. Meanwhile, four other Filipinos in China are suspected of carrying the new flu virus. The Philippine Embassy in Beijing reported that two Filipinos were placed in quarantine after getting into close contact with an infected person. Two other Filipinos were also quarantined in Shanghai. No other information was given by the DFA. As of Tuesday, the Philippines leads in Southeast Asia with the highest confirmed cases of A(H1N1). The Department of Health said 247 Filipino nationals have been infected with mild swine flu. China, which includes the territory of Hong Kong, has the second highest number of A(H1N1) cases in Asia next to Japan, based on the latest World Health Organization statistics. Last month, four Filipinos in Hong Kong were among the 200 visitors quarantined in the posh Metropark Hotel after a Mexican tourist there tested positive for A(H1N1). They were released after the 10-day quarantine period and even enjoyed freebies from the hotel. [See: Quarantined Pinoys enjoy freebies, fried chicken] The infection of two Filipino nationals in Hong Kong has shattered the consulate’s efforts to mitigate the spread of the flu in the Philippine community there. Consul General Claro Cristobal had earlier devised a community approach to prevent the spread of the disease among Philippine nationals in the territory. Aside from pamphlets about the virus, Cristobal has launched text brigades to educate Filipinos about updates on the flu and how to avoid getting infected. [See: How to warn Pinoys in HK vs 'swine flu'? Text them] The DFA is keeping a close eye on several other areas with a large concentration of Filipino migrant workers and Philippine nationals particularly in San Francisco, California; Toronto, Canada; and Canberra, Australia. - Joseph Holandes Ubalde, GMANews.TV