Airports on alert for new SARS-like virus

By Alex Santos, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 26 2012 05:59 PM | Updated as of Sep 27 2012 07:45 AM

MANILA, Philippines – Airports are now on alert for the possible entry of a severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-like virus that may have come from the Middle East.

Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 Quarantine Head Dr. Ali Agama said they were alerted after the World Health Organization released information that a 49-year-old male Qatari who had just travelled to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) showed symptoms last September 3.

Four days later, he was admitted to an intensive care unit in Doha, Qatar. On Sept. 11, he was transferred to the UK by air ambulance from Qatar.

The Health Protection Agency of the UK (HPA) conducted laboratory testing and later confirmed the presence of a "novel coronavirus". Coronaviruses cause the common cold and also SARS.

The Bureau of Quarantine already doubled their monitoring by using “thermal scanners” on arriving passengers.

Agama said they will still follow the usual protocol if a passenger is found to be sick. He or she will be accompanied to a local hospital in San Lazaro or Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Muntinlupa.

"Kung mag-a-alarm ay usual ho naming ginagawa at i-a-assist sila at they will fill-up a checklist. We consider this as a respiratory illness. We cannot be lax,” Agama said.

Agama said, however, that there are no travel restrictions yet. "Pinapayuhan na lang natin ang mga biyahero na palakasin ang resistance at frequent hand washing.”