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Postpone Homecoming, DoH Chief Tells Pacquiao

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Postpone Homecoming, DoH Chief Tells Pacquiao
« on: May 06, 2009, 08:56:18 PM »

MANILA, Philippines—(UPDATE) The Department of Health (DoH) has advised boxing icon Manny Pacquiao to postpone his plan to come home from Los Angeles, California this Friday, as a precautionary move to prevent the spread of the Influenza A(H1N1) virus here.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III urged Pacquiao to move his arrival to Tuesday next week.

“We'll convince them [to postpone their arrival]. I don't want to imagine they will not agree,” Duque said.

Duque said the World Health Organization has reported a "third-generation human-to-human transmission" of the virus in Los Angeles, citing the case of a Mexican who infected another individual, who in turn contaminated a third person.

In the meantime, Pacquiao, his family and entourage should go on a strict “self-quarantine” starting Wednesday and for the next five days, the health chief said.

"Since Manny Pacquiao is in Los Angeles ... it is better to be conservative," he said. "Part of our message to them is that beginning today, they shouldn't be going out anymore. They should impose self-quarantine."

Should they develop fever and other flu symptoms during this five-day self-quarantine period, they should have themselves checked in a hospital. If they would not develop any flu symptoms, they could come home, he said.

Self-quarantine means Pacquiao and his family and entourage should stay in their homes or apartments in Los Angeles and that they should not receive guests.

“Manny is unique because people would like to welcome him. We don't want this to be a cause of unnecessary spread [of the virus],” said Duque.

Pacquiao, his wife, mother and others in his entourage drove from Las Vegas to Los Angeles to celebrate his second-round knockout victory over Hatton in a light welterweight bout Sunday.

The government declared a "national day of celebration" on Friday to welcome Pacquiao back. Weather forecasters, however, predict it could also be a rainy day in Manila from an approaching storm.

Duque said 10 people have been under observation for swine flu in the Philippines since May 1 and five of them have already been cleared of the virus.

Of the remaining cases, two are Filipinos who returned separately from Ireland and the United States, two boys aged 9 and 12 from South Korea and a 26-year-old woman from Britain. They are under observation at different government health facilities.

Duque also said he will chair a meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, starting Thursday of health ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, plus those from Japan, China and South Korea.

He said the health ministers will try to craft a binding resolution on pandemic preparedness and action plans to be submitted to the world health assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, on May 18.(

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