OFWs returning from countries hit by Ebola virus need medical clearance — DOH

October 14, 2014 6:09 am 

MANILA, Oct. 13 — The Department of Health (DOH) is planning to require a medical clearance from Filipinos who are returning from Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, which have been struck by the deadly Ebola virus, Health Secretary Enrique Ona said on Monday.

“We are now making arrangements na iyong ating mga Filipino workers doon … dapat bago sila makauwi dito, we will require them to have a so-called medical clearance,” Ona said on the sidelines of the 65th Session of the World Health Organization Regional Committee for the Western Pacific, held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City.

Ona said the medical clearance would state if the overseas Filipino worker (OFW) has been exposed to people who have contracted or have died of Ebola fever.

He suggested that before coming home, the OFW should observe himself for 21 days to see if he shows any symptom of the disease.

“Ang ating nire-require is paalam muna or let’s say, bago siya gumawa ng kanyang travel arrangements, maghintay siya ng mga — magplano siya at least — ‘di ba kung uuwi ka naman, siguro naman you will plan more than 21 days, ‘di ba? Except lang siguro kung emergency. And then kung wala naman, he will be given a medical clearance and makakauwi na siya,” he explained.

He noted that Ebola fever is not contagious until the patient shows symptoms.

“Ganito ang unique about Ebola, hindi nakakahawa habang wala pang symptoms… Therefore, dapat mga 21 days ka na walang symptoms na parang influenza. Then, pwede ka nang makauwi,” he said.

As soon as the OFW arrives in the country, he will fill out a form so that the DOH could monitor his health, Ona said, adding that if the OFW does show symptoms of the disease, he should get in touch with the DOH via a phone call or a text message.

“Kung meron kang symptoms of parang ‘nung bad flu, sasabihin namin ‘pumarito ka’, parang ‘pumunta ka doon’. Let’s say, nasa Mindanao ka, nasa Cagayan de Oro, sasabihin namin kung saan kang ospital pupunta,” he explained.

He said the DOH has identified hospitals all over the country where Ebola patients will be isolated and examined.

He said the screening will focus on people returning from Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, where there are 1,755 OFWs.

Asked if the Philippines would send health workers and volunteers to the three countries, Ona said the government is still discussing this.

“We will be helping whether in kind or whatever. But kung anong klaseng tulong, hindi pa nade-desisyunan,” he said. (PNA)

LGI/PND/SSC

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