DESPITE class suspensions in Cagayan de Oro (CDO) City schools due to unconfirmed Nipah virus (NiV) case reports, a Department of Education (DepEd) office in Cebu said face-to-face classes will continue until its central office orders a return to distance learning.
DepEd-Mandaue School’s Division Superintendent Bianito Dagatan told SunStar Cebu on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023, that the Department of Health (DOH) had already initiated an investigation on the reported NiV cases in CDO and so far did not advise all schools nationwide to cancel in-person classes amid the incident.
“We have to wait for the order from our higher authorities. Even the DepEd central office has not given an advisory yet,” said Dagatan.
Moreover, Dagatan said there have been no reports yet of students in Mandaue City falling ill or showing flu-like symptoms linked to NiV.
He said they have constantly reminded teachers to monitor their students’ health and physical well-being since face-to-face classes resumed after the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic no longer constitutes as a public health emergency.
In the enrollment quick count as of Sept. 29, DepEd Mandaue logged about 67,891 primary and secondary students in public schools and 21,206 in private schools.
Aside from reminders, Dagatan said they mandated teachers and non-teaching personnel to impose strict hygiene and sanitation to spare students from acquiring diseases in school.
Dagatan, however, said parents of students who may show flu-like illnesses could request their office to have their children undergo modular classes.
The DOH said the Nipah virus can be transmitted to humans through direct contact with infected animals, such as pigs and fruit bats.
The virus was first detected in Malaysia in 1998 and reoccurred in India recently, killing at least five individuals.
Infection with NiV can cause mild to severe disease, including swelling of the brain (encephalitis) and potentially, death.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said symptoms of NiV typically appear in four to 14 days following exposure to the virus.
“The illness initially presents as three to 14 days of fever and headache and often includes signs of respiratory illness, such as cough, sore throat and difficulty breathing. A phase of brain swelling (encephalitis) may follow, where symptoms can include drowsiness, disorientation and mental confusion, which can rapidly progress to coma within 24-48 hours,” the CDC said.
No confirmed NiV case
Last Sept. 26, the DOH said there were no confirmed cases of NiV in the Philippines yet.
Two days after, on Sept. 28, the DOH’s Center for Health Development (CHD) in Northern Mindanao also announced that while there were cases of faculty and students in CDO exhibiting Nipah-like symptoms, no specific virus had yet been identified as the cause. It said the country remained free from the NiV so far.
On Sept. 26, the Liceo de Cagayan University announced through a memorandum that all basic education classes, from Kindergarten to Grade 12, would transition to online classes beginning on Sept. 27 until further notice, to “avoid contamination by the new Nipah Virus.”
The university also instructed basic education faculty members to conduct their online classes at the main campus, adhering to health and safety protocols when entering the school premises.
On the same day, Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan Junior High School issued an advisory stating its shift to online classes from Sept. 26 until Sept. 29 to “prevent further spread of the infection either viral or bacterial among students and teachers.”