May 19, 2009 – MANILA, Philippines – A US hygiene products firm donated one million pieces of its anti-microbial Safeguard soap to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to help minimize the chances of the A(H1N1) influenza virus entering the country.
“You’re lucky because being an island nation, the spread of the H1N1 has been greatly minimized,” James Lafferty, president and general manager Procter and Gamble (P&G), told reporters at the NAIA.
The virus has affected 8,500 people in 39 countries.
Airport general manager Alfonso Cusi welcomed the soap donation. He said the soap products would be distributed at the toilets of the country’s three airport terminals, where users would be able to use them for free.
The NAIA Terminals 1, 2 and 3 are among the busiest airports in the country and are considered possible points of entry for virus-carrying passengers.
Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross, and Cusi joined Lafferty during a brief ceremony.
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He said that the country could probably continue to maintain it’s A(H1N1) virus-free status if the government would implement the strict monitoring of airports and seaports and encourage hand washing as a first step towards warding off harmful viruses and bacteria.
Gordon praised Cusi for installing thermal scanners starting with the threat of the SARS virus a few years ago, and now adding more equipment to combat the spread of the A(H1N1) virus.
Health experts said the frequent and proper hand washing with soap would help prevent many common infections, including flu.
More soap would be distributed in the coming weeks in key areas such as Metro Cebu, Ilocos Norte, Davao and Pampanga.
P&G Philippines donated P7 million worth of Safeguard soaps as part of their long-time advocacy for proper hand washing.
To prevent the spread of the virus, the World Health Organization advised people to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing, and to wash their hands regularly.