No travel restrictions to Middle East despite MERS

By Jenny Reyes, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 15 2014 07:16 PM | Updated as of Apr 16 2014 07:52 PM

MANILA -- Malacañang on Tuesday clarified that there is no travel advisory to and from the Middle East following a report that a Filipino paramedic in al-Ain in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates died after contracting the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Sonny Coloma said there is no need to issue an advisory since there is no declared epidemic or outbreak of the disease yet.

The Department of Health (DOH) has submitted an update on the issue to the President.

The DOH also issued the following reminders to the public:

1. As a health precaution, Filipinos traveling to the Middle East are advised to avoid contact with people exhibiting influenza-like symptoms and to observe frequent handwashing.

2. Those who become ill within two weeks of returning to the Philippines from the Middle East are advised to delay visits to crowded areas and seek immediate medical attention.

3. Hospitals are instructed to immediately report suspected cases to the Department of Health.

4. Any person who recently traveled to Middle East experiencing severe respiratory problems are advised to be tested for MERS-Coronavirus. These cases will be turned over to the National Epidemiology Center and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine for confirmation of the diagnosis.

Coloma said the government is providing assistance to Filipinos in the Middle East who are affected by the virus.

The Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi sent an Assistance To Nationals (ATN) team to Al Ain, UAE on April 12 to check on the condition of five other Filipino medics who remain quarantined after being infected with the MERS-CoV.