Philippines: A(H1N1) panic continues to grow

Asia’s first A(H1N1)-related death is a Filipina from Metro Manila. This was confirmed by health authorities who also warned that 25 percent of the country’s 90 million population could be affected by the dreaded influenza virus. More schools have suspended their classes to protect the health and safety of their students.

Journalist Dana Batnag attended a press briefing of the government on the latest swine flu statistics

On June 19, as the cases of Influenza A(H1N1) surged past 300, the health department made public the statistics they have so far on the H1N1 cases in the Philippines. Roughly one-third came from abroad, many of them Filipinos who went for a vacation in the US despite the DOH (Department of Health) warning to put off unnecessary travel. Most of the recorded cases so far are in Metro Manila — and many of them were in Quezon City. All cases have so far been mild.

Patricio Mangubat explains why the first A(H1N1)-related community outbreak in the country is worrisome:

The first community outbreak in the country is worrisome for two reasons: First, the victims were exposed to the virus due to a medical mission and second, everyone got the virus locally. This is quite dangerous, since the virus is now spreading locally and even doctors don't know how to handle such a potentially virulent strain of the virus.

The Department of Health seems capable of doing its job but, somewhere, somewhat, it's bungling it. They want to allay fears by telling that the virus is “mild”, and not lethal. Yet, it says that the potential of the virus morphing into a more virulent strain is there.

Premeditated notes that the swine flu scare is benefiting drug companies and some doctors

…the hype has caused many people to panic. Drug companies and some doctors have been quick to ride on the wave of hysteria. People have been flocking to them in droves. They believe that getting injected with the current flu vaccine would protect them from the swine flu. In effect, their panic is filling up the purses of some doctors and drug companies.

The Four-eyed Journal asserts that paranoia is more dangerous than the swine flu virus:

…to all those who are raising the alarms and claiming a pandemic, please, calm down, be informed and think twice before doing or saying anything. Especially if you’re not an expert on this matter. The spread of fear, paranoia and panic is way deadlier than any pathogenic virus.

Ade writes how the swine flu panic is affecting the behavior of Metro Manilans:

…seeing people around me panic is just not doing anyone good. Because I tend to freak out too; and whenever I freak out I curl into a fetal position and suck my thumb. Want to know how jumpy people are? Everytime somebody coughs in the elevator, I could literally see everyone’s head turning towards the poor guy, with MURDER written on their faces.

John Ryan Recabar warns that there are deadlier diseases than A(H1N1):

It’s almost a joke whenever I hear of officials in the government warning the public about swine flu when dengue fever claims thousands of lives each year or that more children die from malnutrition in Manila alone than all the combined mortality cases resulting from A(H1N1) in the world.

taga monumento advises the health secretary to reveal the real situation so that the country can adequately prepare for any disaster

We have seen Secretary Duque of the DOH going the rounds assuring everybody that there is no need to be concerned about H1N1 because all we've had here in the Philippines are mild cases. We should all be thankful for that.

However, I believe now is the time for Secretary Duque and our officials at the Department of Health to start talking more in public about the possible dangers that lie ahead based on historical precedents and what the entire nation can do to prepare for any future eventuality.

Nicon Famenorag shares his thoughts on the swine flu pandemic

The swine flu pandemic is not an everyday event, unlike hunger or traffic or political squabbling. But because the media’s reporting painted the swine flu virus in very graphic and alarming terms, people have come to grips with the sound byte and behaved accordingly.

It is for experts to explain the causes and events that led to the mutation of the swine flu virus. For the people around the world, their concern is how not to get afflicted. For those who have it, to get well and healed.

A sample of twitter reactions from the Philippines:

the_real_jonan: not much to tweet about, i wish i was in school, darn that swine flu=P
arizagei: CURSE YOU SWiNE FLU OR A(H1N1) ViRUS! because of you my dad can't come home! >:[
kokokrunch76: I hate swine flu! It's making everyone so paranoid!
manong: swine flu paranoia at its peak. I sneezed in ATC today, and to my surprise, nearly everyone around me flinched.
lanalane924: Schools in Manila are panicking due to the influenza A(H1N1) virus. Keep on suspending classes…. Tsk!tsk!tsk!

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