Masses in San Pablo City stopped due to H1N1

SAN PABLO CITY, Philippines -- At least five priests teaching in a Catholic college seminary here were unable to say Masses on Sunday and have been placed on quarantine after two seminarians they regularly deal with tested positive for the Influenza A(H1N1) virus last week.

The quarantine period started on July 7 and would last until July 17 on the advice of health authorities, Father Jerry Gaela, rector of the St. Peter's College Seminary of the Diocese of San Pablo, said in a telephone interview on Sunday.

Two of their more than 90 seminarians were found to be infected with the highly contagious flu virus and were immediately treated while the rest of the students were sent home classes and Sunday masses were suspended temporarily, he said.

Gaela said the seminarians who tested positive for the virus, like the rest of the seminary students, had just returned to the seminary from their weekend vacation.

Meanwhile, in Los Baños, five elementary and high schools were reported to have suspended classes last Wednesday after their students showed A(H1N1) symptoms, but classes were set to reopen on Monday, Batong Malake village chairman Nilo Lapis said.

The five schools are the Christian School International, Makiling School and Southville School, Los Baños National High School and the Lopez Elementary School, Lapis said.

Two high school students tested positive for the virus and have been quarantined at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Manila, he said.

Earlier, the Los Baños National High School and the Lopez Elementary School in Batong Malake village suspended classes starting Wednesday after some of their students developed fever and showed symptoms of A(H1N1), Lapis said in a phone interview.

"We were told by our municipal health officer that the best thing that we could do was to suspend classes to prevent the spread of the virus," said Lapis, who stays near the LBNHS and who was advised by the municipal health office to closely monitor the affected students.

Last month, the Sta. Rosa City government, suspended classes in selected elementary and high schools for a week after 11 persons tested positive for the virus.

Nine of the cases were students from public and private schools, one just returned from abroad, and another was a resident of the city.

Sta. Rosa City Mayor Arlene Nazareno said in an earlier interview that classes were being suspended by clusters to "sanitize" the schools.