'Class opening suspension due to swine flu very remote'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 15 2009 08:47 AM | Updated as of Jun 01 2009 02:39 AM

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Friday said that postponing the opening of classes next month because of the influenza A(H1N1) virus is very remote.

"Kung saka-sakaling magkaroon ng malawakang pagkalat, doon lang posibleng pag-usapan na dapat suspendihin ang klase ng ilang araw gaya ng ginawa sa Mexico. Sa palagay ko hindi naman tayo hahantong gaya ng sa Mexico (We will talk about suspending classes if there will be a nationwide spread [of H1N1 virus], just like what they did in Mexico. But I believe it will not happen to us)," Duque said.

The health secretary said suspending the opening of classes on June 1 is remote, especially now that the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine has already cleared the seven new suspected H1N1 carriers.

Duque announced Thursday that the seven new cases under observation, including three Filipinos and four foreigners, have been cleared and allowed to go home.

The Department of Health (DOH) said it has tested a total of 46 people for the H1N1 virus. The patients' ages range from 1 year to 80 years old.

Duque said the DOH has been closely monitoring with the Department of Education (DepEd) in preparation for the opening of classes. He said the two agencies have set up measures to prevent the spread of H1N1 and other diseases during the school year.

Deped Secretary Jesli Lapus, meanwhile, said that aside from the H1N1 virus, the DOH and his office have been preparing against dengue. He said that from May 18 to May 22, the DepEd will start cleaning the 43,000 public schools nationwide.

Lapus added that the DepEd has strengthened its protective health care program with the help of local government units. Part of the program is the setting up of "handwashing" stations in every schools.