DOH to continue tracking co-passengers of OFW infected with MERS virus
MANILA, Philippines—After putting the first Filipino in the country infected with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus into quarantine, the Department of Health is set to continue the crackdown on the fellow passengers of the migrant worker.
In a statement, Health Secretary Enrique Ona said that they are continuing to track the co-passengers of the overseas Filipino worker, whom they labelled as Index Passenger, of flight EY 0424 from Abu Dhabi to Manila on April 15.
“We were able to track the Index Passenger while he was on his way home and requested his relatives and well-wishers to subject themselves to testing and medical observation at a DOH regional hospital,” Ona said in the statement.
Ona said that on their second test that the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine conducted, Index Passenger was negative of the virus.
Index Passenger was found to be positive of the virus on April 15 while he was still at Al Ain, a city four hours away from Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates.
Ona, however, pointed out that even if Index Passenger is negative of the virus in their last test his co-passengers were still in danger of contacting the virus during the seven-hour flight to Manila from Abu Dhabi, a period in time when the OFW was still positive of the virus.
“May I emphasize this important fact: The MERS-Corona Virus is a communicable disease that may be passed on to others through exposure or close contact with a positive carrier,” Ona said.
According to the chief of the DOH, of the 415 passengers of EY 0424, 119 have been contacted and 72 have been tested with 40 of them bearing negative results.
“We are greatly encouraged by the negative results obtained on the Index Passenger and all other passengers that have been tested,” Ona said.
He added that with the virus’ incubation period of 14 days, all passengers should submit to testing.
Ona also mobilized Task Force MCV which would trace and contact the other passengers.
According to Ona, the Regional Epidemiology Service Unit would accompany those contacted to the nearest DOH office or district hospital.
He added that specimens from the tested passengers would be sent to the RITM in Muntinlupa City and Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City.
“We are also calling the attention of Filipinos who have returned recently from the Middle East to report to the nearest hospital if they experience symptoms of the MERS-Corona virus,” Ona said.
People infected with the MERS-Cov would experience symptoms similar to the flu, including fever with cough, colds, and sneezing.
“Indeed an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
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