Friday, May 15, 2009

'American Idol' stars checked for swine flu in Philippines

MANILA, May 14, 2009 (AFP) - The two top contenders from last season's hit US television show "American Idol" faced swine flu checks by government doctors after landing in the Philippines to perform a concert, officials said Thursday.
David Cook and David Archuleta, winner and runner-up respectively of the seventh season of the highly popular reality show, immediately consulted their lawyers when quarantine officials came knocking as they rested in their hotel rooms late Wednesday, a day after arriving in the Philippines.

The officials were enforcing health regulations aimed at keeping the Southeast Asian nation of 90 million people free of the A(H1N1) virus, said Edgardo Sabitsana, director of the quarantine bureau.

The heart-throbs, who are set to perform Saturday at a Manila shopping mall, were made to answer a checklist based on recommendations from the Atlanta-based Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sabitsana told reporters it took almost three hours to persuade the celebrities to meet the quarantine officials and that during that time the two Americans rang their lawyers.

He said the officials stressed to the two artists that the government could hold, arrest or detain people or even ban the planned concert over concerns about swine flu.

The officials are scheduled to visit Cook and Archuleta again Thursday, and their managers also pledged to have both checked for flu symptoms at least twice a day, Sabitsana said.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque said that as of Thursday there were still no confirmed cases of the virus in the Philippines.

All 49 people who had been put under observation in government and private hospitals since May 1 have been discharged, he said.

Duque added that all public gatherings must follow guidelines issued by the health department "and this is now being applied to David Cook and David Archuleta."

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