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Idols ordered by Manila to take daily health checks amid flu concerns
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16:45, May 14, 2009

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Alarmed over the rapid spread of Influenza A/H1N1, Philippine health officials on Thursday said they have demanded two arriving "American Idol" stars to daily report their temperature readings before their Manila concert this weekend.

David Cook, the winner of the "American Idol" Season 7, together with the runner-up David Archuleta, arrived in the Philippines on Tuesday and will hold a much anticipated concert on Saturday night at the outdoor performing ground near the Manila Bay that can accommodate tens of thousands of Davids' fans.

Compared to fervent young Filipino fans, Edgardo Sabitsana, the Quarantine chief of the Philippine Department of Health, told media that he is more concerned about the daunting Influenza A/H1N1 issue as the two Davids and their 8-men team were coming from the United States where 3009 human cases were reported, including three deaths.

On the other hand, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III told a press conference held here at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine that as of Thursday the Philippines has "zero case" Influenza A/H1N1.

Duque said people traveling from the flu-affected countries and regions are required to be screened for signs and symptoms of the virus.

Sabitsana said it cost him three hours on Wednesday to have the "Idols" to comply with the health rules, especially after he threatened to cancel the concert for public health concerns.

"After our discussion, they realized that it is for their own good and they became very cooperative," he said.

Sabitsana said the group are not found to be affected by the flu virus as of now and the artists and their team agreed to report their temperatures to the health authorities twice a day from late Wednesday to Saturday.

Sabitsana said the stars and event organizers were also briefed on the proper precautionary measures that they are recommended to take on Saturday night.

"Make available adequate hand washing facilities with disinfectant soap or sanitizers, observe social distancing and personal hygiene and etc.," Sabitsana said.

But a brief fans-greeting event on Wednesday has testified that the health authorities' recommendation on "social distancing" is almost impossible to be implemented.

Hundreds of screaming Filipino young girls pushed each other in a large crowd to get close to David Archuleta from the second he appeared inside a shopping mall. Girls literally chased him as security personnel escorted the cute-faced Archuleta out of the mall after the five-minute say-hi event.


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