Sep 242014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/04/09MANILA913.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA913
2009-04-28 10:59
2011-08-30 01:44
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO0795
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #0913/01 1181059
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 281059Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3948
RHHMUNA/USPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000913

SIPDIS

BANGKOK FOR HOWELL HOWARD AND WINSTON BOWMAN
STATE PASS USAID
STATE PASS HHS/NIH
STATE PASS HHS/CDC

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KFLU TBIO SENV KSCA AMGT RP
SUBJECT: PHILIPPINES’ INITIAL RESPONSE TO SWINE FLU THREAT

¶1. (SBU) Summary: While no swine flu cases have been reported in the
Philippines, the government is taking steps to increase protective
measures and raise its alert level for possible outbreaks. On April
28, the Secretary of National Defense told the Ambassador the
government viewed the situation with “utmost seriousness” and was
taking a range of protective measures. He welcomed Ambassador’s
offer to provide the latest public health and public affairs
information available to Post. Philippine health authorities do not
currently intend to issue any travel bans, but said they plan to
institute thermal screening of arriving air passengers and have
designated possible quarantine hospitals in case flu victims are
identified. The Embassy held an emergency preparedness meeting to
ensure close coordination among Mission elements and with U.S.
military forces currently in country, and distributed information to
staff and posted links on its website for U.S. citizens. The
Philippine Department of Agriculture is preparing to ban U.S. pork
in spite of U.S. Department of Agriculture proof that eating pork
does not cause the flu. END SUMMARY.

GOVERNMENT RAMPING UP EFFORTS
—————————–

¶2. (SBU) While taking part April 28 in events in the Bicol region
associated with this year’s Balikatan bilateral military exercise,
the Ambassador and Philippine Secretary of National Defense Gilberto
Teodoro discussed the swine flu outbreak and both governments’
initial steps to deal with the problem. Teodoro, who chairs the
government’s National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), told the
Ambassador that although there were no reported swine flu cases in
the Philippines, the government was taking recent outbreaks of flu
in Mexico and elsewhere with utmost seriousness and implementing a
range of protective measures. He said he would be returning to
Manila to chair an emergency meeting of the NDCC and report to the
Cabinet and President on the results of his coordination efforts.

¶3. (SBU) The Ambassador briefed Secretary Teodoro on U.S. mitigation
and control efforts, and the Secretary welcomed the Ambassador’s
offer to provide the most recent public health and public affairs
information and fact sheets available to the Mission to assist the
NDCC with its planning. Mission has passed that information along
to the NDCC and Teodoro’s personal staff.

POST PREPAREDNESS
—————–

¶4. (SBU) A/DCM convened a meeting April 28 of key Mission elements
involved in health issues, public affairs, American citizen
outreach, and agricultural issues to ensure Mission’s internal
preparedness for any potential outbreak of influenza and to evaluate
the Philippines’ initial response to the swine flu outbreak.

¶5. (SBU) USAID health officers reported on their discussions with
the Philippine Department of Health, and Manila-based officials of
the World Health Organization and U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
The Department of Health issued prevention measures, and set up
reporting protocols and telephone hotlines. The Philippine
government does not have a travel ban in place, but is collecting
health declaration cards from travelers. Officials said they plan
to use thermal scans on passengers arriving from affected countries,
but no such measures were yet evident at Manila’s international
airport. Three Manila hospitals with isolation rooms have been
designated as treatment centers in case of an outbreak.

POST PREPAREDNESS
—————–

¶6. (SBU) Post’s medical unit reported that adequate stocks of
Tamiflu and Relanza are on hand for Mission personnel and family
members and local staff if an outbreak were to occur. The medical
unit has reviewed treatment plans and protocols for the Mission, and
ensured that flu testing kits are available. Mission Peace Corps
personnel reported that all Volunteers in the Philippines have
Tamiflu medication in their emergency medical kits in case of any
outbreaks here. Mission’s regional medical officer will maintain
close contact with U.S. military medical officers serving the
members of Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines in the
southern Philippines, as well as some 6,000 U.S. military personnel
taking part in the Balikatan military exercise to ensure they are
fully informed of the USG response to the swine flu outbreak.

PUBLIC INFORMATION OUTREACH
—————————

¶7. (SBU) Post disseminated flu facts and prevention information to
Mission members, and asked all members to report to the Health Unit

MANILA 00000913 002 OF 002

if they exhibit flu symptoms. The American Citizen Services section
has also posted information and links on the Embassy website for
resident and visiting American citizens.

POSSIBLE BAN ON U.S. PORK
————————-

¶8. (SBU) The Philippines’ Secretary of Agriculture announced on
April 26 he would issue an order to ban all imports of U.S. pork and
pork products because of a purported swine flu threat. Post
stressed to Philippine agriculture and health officials that
properly handled and cooked pork products would not transmit swine
flu, and the Philippine Bureau of Animal Industry acknowledged this
fact. Still, political and public relations considerations may
outweigh scientific fact on this issue.

NEXT STEPS
———-

¶9. (SBU) Post’s interagency pandemic preparedness task force will
meet on April 29 to further assess how protocols and plans developed
for possible avian influenza outbreaks could be employed in the
current situation.

KENNEY

   

 

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