Solons urge gov’t to brace for entry of flu virus from US

HOUSE members today called on the government to be alert and ready for the possible entry in the country of arriving passengers from the United States of America (USA) suspected to be afflicted with the deadly flu virus that has swept across most of the American nation.

Deputy Speaker Rep. Ma. Isabelle Climaco (1st District, Zamboanga City) said the Department of Health (DOH) should issue health alerts in all entry points including Manila, Clark and Cebu to ensure careful screening of arriving passengers from the US.

“Health authorities should find out the flu strain, determine the need for mass immunization and issue media plugs against the flu virus,” Climaco said.

Rep. Teddy Casiño (Party-list, Bayan Muna) said proper information should be issued to avoid unnecessary panic and misinformation.

“With or without the outbreak, the government should have a system of health and use screening and surveillance methods within the country and those traveling to and from abroad,” Casiño said, adding that this should be a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) already.

Casiño said health information and education should be massive and available both for incoming tourists, balikbayans and the local population to protect the safety of everyone.

“Equally important is the availability and accessibility of health services especially in our public health facilities where most of our population depend.  We should always be alert and ready,” Casiño stressed.

Rep. Romero Federico Quimbo (2nd District, Marikina City) said airport authorities should step up the screening of passengers from the US considering that a substantial number of tourists come from the US.

Statistics from the Department of Tourism’s (DOT) website showed that US tourists ranked number 2 in tourist arrivals from January to November 2012 with a total of 586,965 visitors.

“Flu is one of the most quiet but deadly ailments which we should be careful about,” Quimbo said.

Reports said the flu virus has swept across most of the US, claiming the lives of twenty children and resulting in vaccine shortages.

One of the deadliest natural disasters in human history was the flu pandemic that occurs between January 1918 and December 1920.  It infected 500 million people across the globe, killing 20 to 50 million from the remote Pacific Islands and the arctic, which represented 1 to 3 percent of the world’s population at the time.

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