PHL still MERS-CoV free; 97% of Etihad Airways flight 0424 tested negative — DOH

April 30, 2014 6:06 am 

By Azer N. Parrocha

MANILA, April 29 (PNA) — Out of the 414 passengers who arrived the Philippines in Etihad Airways flight EY0424 last April 15, some 400 have been contract traced while 394 (97 percent) of which have tested negative of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome virus (MERS-CoV) as of Tuesday.

The Department of Health (DOH) has been on close surveillance of passengers coming from the Arab Peninsula since it was reported that a returning overseas Filipino worker (OFW) from Abu Dhabi was initially tested positive for the virus.

After being placed in quarantine, the OFW who worked as a nurse in the same hospital where a Filipino patient died from the virus was tested negative. He was later discharged.

MERS-CoV task force head, Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy said in a health forum that despite this good news, the agency continued to monitor passengers since thousands of OFWs arrive and leave the Philippines daily.

“We cannot be complacent. The threat will always be there. We have to be cautious of our surroundings,” Suy said.

He earlier reminded passengers coming from the Middle East to take note of the virus’ 14-day incubation period.

If signs or symptoms of MERS-CoV do not show after 14 days of supposed exposure to the virus, it means that the passenger is non-infective or did not acquire the disease.

Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia, it was reported that three Filipino nurses based there were tested positive for MERS-CoV. They are currently confined in hospitals’ (not mentioned) isolation rooms.

As a precaution for Filipinos preparing to work in the Middle East, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) has also included MERS-CoV health education through seminars.

OWWA administrator Carmelita Dimzon said in the forum that Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz also instructed the OWWA to secure a list of OFWs’ complete contact information.

For the meantime, the DOH reminds passengers coming from Arabian Peninsula with symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, diarrhea among others to visit a DOH health facility for evaluation. (PNA) lgi/ANP/Jenina R. Avanceña (OJT)

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