Tuesday, March 9, 2010
EDITORIAL - Containing the flu
(The Philippine Star) Updated June 07, 2009 12:00 AM
After two students diagnosed with Influenza A(H1N1) prompted a 10-day suspension of classes at De la Salle University in Manila, several universities have postponed for a week their school opening as a precautionary measure. The postponement gives school authorities more time to prepare the proper response in case anyone in the school is diagnosed with the potentially deadly flu.
With a vaccine still months away, the best that can be done at this point is for everyone to follow guidelines laid down by health experts in detecting the flu. Anyone who has just arrived from an overseas trip, even if the flight merely transited through a country where A(H1N1) cases have been reported, but who did not register any fever upon arrival at the airport must still be on alert for several days for symptoms such as a persistent cough, cold or sore throat. If any symptom emerges, a doctor must be consulted immediately for possible referral to A(H1N1) experts.
Similar precautionary measures must be adopted by anyone who has come in close contact with any of the confirmed cases of A(H1N1) in the Philippines. The new flu strain, which has infected nearly 20,000 people and killed over 100 in 66 countries, can manifest itself even after nearly two weeks following infection. Though the flu does not seem to be spreading in the Philippines as rapidly as in other countries, certain quarters fear a spike when all schools open within the month.
Schools and offices cannot be shut down while pharmaceutical giants rush the production of a vaccine. Mexico City, which has suffered the highest number of infections and deaths, contained the spread through a massive shutdown, but this lasted only for a few days. In the absence of a vaccine, some people are opting for ordinary anti-flu shots to boost their immune system. Some precautionary measures could help, such as sanitizing schools and workplaces. Confronting this health hazard requires civic responsibility. If you suspect you have the flu, do everything to prevent its spread.