DLSU suspends classes for 10 days over H1N1 flu

dlsu-logoBy Sheila Crisostomo – Health Secretary Francisco Duque III reported yesterday that De La Salle University (DLSU) officials have decided to voluntarily close the campus along Taft Ave. in Manila starting today up to June 14 after one of its foreign exchange students was found positive for Influenza A(H1N1).

Duque said the suspension of classes at DLSU was “in consonance with Response Level 3 of the Guidelines for A(H1N1) for schools which state that school authorities should suspend classes after detection of at least one confirmed case and there is no sustained community transmission.”

The patient is a 21-year-old female foreigner who arrived in the country last May 12. The Department of Health’s (DOH) Research Institute for Tropical Medicine confirmed yesterday that the throat swab samples taken from her were positive for A(H1N1).

But the DOH is puzzled how the student had contracted the virus as she was reported to have “mild symptoms” only last May 29, way beyond the 10-day incubation period for A(H1N1).

Duque admitted the patient could have been infected in the Philippines and not in her country of origin. “It’s a possibility because if you count 10 days from May 12, she should have been free of the virus.”

It has been established that a healthy individual could acquire the virus without manifesting symptoms.

“The DOH is investigating and doing contact tracing to see if there were other exposed individuals related to this new case. Initial findings reveal that there is very limited exposure of other students to the confirmed case and that both DOH and school authorities can trace them,” he added.

DLSU president and chancellor Bro. Armin Luistro said that DLSU-Taft has 13,000 students and 1,500 faculty and personnel. The school’s trimester classes started last May 25.

All of them have already been notified about the situation and are advised to observe themselves for symptoms.

He said the patient has “very limited contact. The patient stayed in a dormitory and attended four classes with 30 students each.”

And even before the she was found infected, the school had already begun educating students about the DOH-recommended precautionary measures against A(H1N1).

Luistro, however, clarified that DLSU’s sister university, College of St. Benilde, is not covered by the class suspension.

He added that affected students would be given home assignments that they have to submit through email.

DLSU clinics will remain open for consultation during the period of class suspension while its hotline number is (02) 526-5913. Students and personnel were advised to report through the hotline if they develop symptoms.

Dr. So Nyunt-U, country representative of the World Health Organization, said the number of confirmed A(H1N1) cases in the Philippines is still “very manageable” and would not result in the elevation of the pandemic level from the present five to six.

DOH records showed there are now 22 confirmed cases in the country.

“At the moment, the cases in the Philippines are very manageable. What we are worried in our (Western Pacific) region is Australia which reported 500 cases in the past couple of days,” So maintained.

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