MERS-CoV remains a threat in PH

by Nina Corpuz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 29 2014 04:07 PM | Updated as of Apr 30 2014 12:07 AM

MANILA - Out of the 414 passengers of an Etihad Airways flight that carried a nurse who initially tested positive for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), only 14 have to be contacted by the Department of Health (DOH).

The DOH is still completing the data of 10 other passengers, while the remaining 4 are believed to be foreigners and have probably left the country, said Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy, the DOH’s program manager for emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.

Of the 400 passengers contacted, meanwhile, 371 have been tested negative for MERS-CoV.

Another 23 passengers are still awaiting their results and are currently quarantined. The 6 others have only recently been contacted by the DOH.

"The Philippines is MERS-CoV free as of this time, but we can never be complacent about this. The threat is still there, everyday maraming umuuwi,” said Lee Suy.

He added the DOH and the Bureau of Quarantine at the airport are continuously monitoring the arrival of all overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) coming from the Middle East.

Meanwhile, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration chief Carmelita Dimzon said they have already included an extensive discussion of MERS-CoV in their pre-departure orientation seminar module.

She also added OFWs from the Middle East who need to get an overseas employment certificate--whether from the embassy in the country where they work or at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration--need to fill up an information sheet where they will put all their contact details, complete address, mobile phone, landline so that authorities won't have a hard time looking for them in case they need to be tested for MERS-CoV.