Ebola watch at NAIA

By Rudy Santos, The Philippine Star

Posted at Aug 04 2014 09:17 AM | Updated as of Aug 04 2014 05:17 PM

MANILA - Doctors and nurses from the Bureau of Human Quarantine (BoQ) at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) terminals are strictly monitoring arriving passengers with connecting flights from Ebola-hit West African countries.

Dr. Federico Castillo said that their staff are using thermal digital scanners to monitor incoming passengers, particularly those with connecting flights from countries hit by the deadly Ebola virus.

A construction company that employs Filipinos in Sierra Leone has previously imposed an immediate repatriation of all its workers to protect them from the Ebola outbreak.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) had provided the BoQ with the list of Filipino workers who would be returning from Sierra Leone so they could be subjected to quarantine protocols upon return.

Quarantine doctors would examine passengers with fever and cough and their staff would distribute health alert and check lists to be filled out for future references.

“We will monitor every passenger for a month to prevent the virus from spreading in the country,” Castillo said.

Castillo said it is unlikely that the virus will reach the Philippines.

He said travelers from the Ebola-hit West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, would have to take three connecting flights before reaching NAIA.

“The virus dies due to the long trip, but to make sure, we will monitor them,” Castillo added.

Ebola Virus Disease, or EVD, is a severe acute viral illness often characterized by the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat.

It also causes vomiting, diarrhea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding.

Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have been warned not to travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone where the latest Ebola outbreak started.

Castillo said returning OFWs and other travelers from the three countries would be screened extensively for over a month.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said that there are some 3,491 Filipinos working in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone when the travel ban was imposed last July 4, 2014.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said the death toll had risen by 57 to 729 patients last Thursday and the disease had infected more than 1,300 people since the start of the year.

Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) chief Hans Cacdac said the government would tap the assistance of recruitment agencies in monitoring the conditions of Filipinos employed in Ebola-affected countries.

He said the agency would meet the officials of recruitment agencies to discuss possible measures to protect Filipinos from the deadly virus.

“We are slated to meet recruiters that deployed workers to three African countries affected by Ebola so we could monitor the wellbeing of our workers,” Cacdac said.

Cacdac noted that POEA is part of the inter-agency group that coordinates efforts to prevent entry of Ebola virus into the country as well as protect OFWs from the illness.

The POEA has been advising Filipinos abroad, particularly those employed in West African countries to take the necessary precautions against Ebola.

DOLE earlier advised OFWs in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to prepare for possible evacuation if the health situation in the African region worsens.

She urged OFWs in these countries to limit their non-essential movements, avoid public places to prevent exposure to the disease and prepare for possible evacuation.

The DOLE and the POEA have also stopped the processing and deployment of newly hired OFWs bound for the three West African countries after the DFA raised the crisis alert there to level 2 (restriction phase).

The Department of Health (DOH) is currently monitoring seven OFWs recently repatriated from Sierra Leone for possible Ebola infection. With Mayen Jaymalin