Cafe Xocolat

Xocolat in Katipunan

I do my best “grilling” in restaurants, and I usually choose quiet places not frequented by fellow reporters. Restaurants that serve tasty, but not pricey, meals, where the ambience is relaxed and the waiters kind but not overly solicitous. Continue reading


RP now has 10 confirmed cases of A(H1N1)

There are now ten confirmed cases of Influenza A(H1N1), according to the health department. Six of the cases attended the wedding in Zambales that was also attended by the Taiwanese woman who later tested positive for the virus. Continue reading

DOH confirms: 4 more cases of A(H1N1) in RP

From left to right: Dr. Vasquez, Secretary Duque, Dr. Villaverde, Dr. Tayag.

There are now a total of 6 cases of Influenza A(H1N1) in the Philippines. Of the six, three have fully recovered while three still have cough.

Two of the new cases were among those who had close contact with the Taiwanese woman who visited the Philippines for five days and then tested positive for Influenza A(H1N1) in Taiwan.
The health department had earlier said she attended a yoga session here, then said that she did not attend any social gathering, and later said that she attended a wedding.

Health Undersecretary Mario Villaverde said the discrepancies in the statements were due to the fact that the Taiwanese woman was not very forthcoming with the information.

Until now the DOH refuses to release information about those who have the virus, leaving the public guessing as to what places to avoid, which only fuels more speculation, or whether they have been exposed and should contact the DOH.

During the press conference, questions on whether or not the new confirmed cases went to a public place after their contact with the Taiwanese woman and before the symptoms manifested were not answered. DOH officials simply said that they “were able to get the contacts as far as they know.”

Anyway, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III stresses that the virus appears to be mild, since less than one percent of those who had it died. Continue reading

Health Sec convenes 2nd command conference on A(H1N1)

DOH press release on the second command conference on A(H1N1). The two A(H1N1) cases have recovered and no longer show any symptoms of influenza; the Taiwanese mother and child who were found positive in Taiwan after a short visit here in the Philippines have also recovered. They are waiting for their repeat test to become negative. Three of their close contacts here in the Philippines have been traced and have tested negative. Continue reading

RP has second case of A(H1N1)

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III gives a press briefing shortly after his arrival from Geneva

And the health department clarifies: the Taiwanese woman found positive with A(H1N1) virus upon arrival in Taiwan, after a short trip to the Philippines, DID NOT ATTEND A YOGA SESSION IN THE PHILIPPINES.

The Philippines now has its second case of A(H1N1): a 50-year-old balikbayan woman from Chicago who went here for a vacation. The woman arrived here on May 20. She was referred to a doctor after she developed a fever and a cough, and later tested positive for A(H1N1). She is now recovering, however, even though she had just been given antivirals.

In fact, in Japan, Duque said some patients were not given medicines at all, but were told to stay home and rest; they recovered on their own.

Meanwhile, here is the health department’s statement on the Taiwanese woman who was found positive for A(H1N1) after a short trip here to the Philippines:
“On the Taiwanese national who visited the Philippines, the DOH is continuously investigating the case. We have already coordinated with Taiwan Centers for Disease Control who reported yesterday that the patient has already fully recovered. At present, her daughter only has mild respiratory symptoms and does not have fever anymore. Based on the information we have, the Taiwanese woman fell ill after visiting the Philippines for a short vacation. She did not attend any social gathering in the country, which could have exposed her to the virus while here in the Philippines.” Continue reading

What can be done to prevent the spread of A(H1N1)?

WHO graph shows the number of cases is rising

First, the good news: the number of people dying from A(H1N1) is less than one percent. The not-so-good news is that one third of the deaths were young and healthy people. The bad news? Some cases MIGHT BE asymptomatic: there MIGHT be people who didn’t get sick at all, but who MIGHT have passed on the new flu virus — A(H1N1) — to others. The silver lining is that that would further lower the mortality rate, which as of now stands at less than one percent.

In a briefing last Friday (May 22, 2009), the World Health Organization (WHO) said there might be asymptomatic cases, or people who have the virus but have no symptoms, such as fever or cough. They could pass on the virus without even knowing that they had it.
This means contact tracing and thermal screening — measures which helped control SARS — might not be as effective.

How, then, to prevent the spread of this new flu virus? The most basic is handwashing, says Julie Hall, WHO expert on emerging infectious diseases.
The virus spreads through droplets, Hall says, as when one sneezes or coughs. It does not survive long after it leaves the body and falls to the ground. The problem is when one sneezes or coughs into one’s hand, and then touches another, or when the droplets fall on another person’s hand, and that hand then touches that other person’s eyes or mouth. Observe personal hygiene, and respiratory etiquette, as the health department has been saying over and over again. When you cough or sneeze, do it in a handkerchief. Wash your hands as often as possible.

In situations such as in Mexico, where the virus was spreading rapidly, closure of schools and public places might help because it would lessen the chances of passing on the virus.

***EMPHASIS ON THE “MIGHT.” The WHO says that “based on early data from Mexico it seems likely that some people will be infected but not show any symptoms. It is currently unknown if people who are infected but do not show any symptoms can infect other people or not.”
Continue reading

DOH tracing, monitoring people who had contact with RP’s first A(H1N1) case

WHO map showing countries that have reported one or more cases of A(H1N1) virus. The Philippines is not yet included.

Health authorities are now monitoring at least 17 people who had close contacts with the 10-year-old girl who were diagnosed positive for Influenza A(H1N1). These were mainly those who were seated around her in the plane, the health department said, as they defined close contact as “six hours with and within six feet.”
The girl, health authorities said, are recovering. Her mother, who has been taking care of her and is the one closest to her, has been tested for the virus and was found negative. Continue reading