The Department of Health on Monday confirmed six new cases of influenza A (H1N1) in the Philippines, bringing to 39 the total number of people in the country infected with the virus.
In a Senate hearing on the Cheaper Medicines Act, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said all confirmed A (H1N1) cases in the country exhibited symptoms of a "mild form of influenza." He said none of the people infected with the virus has died and most have responded positively to treatment.
Duque did not say where the new A (H1N1) cases were detected and how the people contracted the virus. He added, however, that the health department will need to shift tactics to prevent the further spread of the virus.
He said frequent handwashing and social distancing as well as eating nutritious food would help prevent the spread of the virus.
In a related development, an elementary school in Marikina City suspended classes Monday after a Grade VI pupil exhibited flu-like symptoms in class.
Marikina Mayor Marides Fernando said she suspended classes at the Calumpang Elementary School after rumors spread that a pupil had contracted swine flu. She said the pupil later turned out to have contracted diphtheria.
She said classes at the school are expected to resume Tuesday.
The Department of Education (DepEd) said Sunday it is not planning the cancellation of classes in public elementary and secondary school, after the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) moved the start of classes in all colleges and universities nationwide to June 15 due to cases of influenza A (H1N1) in several universities.
DepEd Public Information Officer Kenneth Tirado said the agency will not cancel classes in public elementary and high schools despite confirmed cases of influenza A (H1N1) in two major universities.
The DepEd said the reported cases in De La Salle University and Far Eastern University are mostly from foreign exchange students, and that most elementary and high school students have little or no contact with foreign students.
The DepEd also said that students in public schools rarely travel abroad, compared to their counterparts in private schools.
Meanwhile, the education department said it will let private elementary and secondary schools decide on their own if they will cancel classes.
The department said it only has authority over private schools with regard to curricular concerns, and not over administrative and operational concerns.
The DepEd also reiterated that they already have protocols regarding the suspension of classes if ever there are reported cases of influenza A (H1N1) in schools.