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NAIA tightens screening of incoming travellers

Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia). INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Amid fears of a worldwide spread of the deadly Ebola virus, airport and health authorities have tightened the screening of arriving passengers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Now, passengers of all foreign flights arriving at all terminals of the NAIA are required to fill out a health declaration checklist which asks for their travel histories, addresses, and contact details.

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“Before, we are just screening passengers of selected flights. Now all must be checked,” Dr. Cesar Anastacio, station chief of the Bureau of Quarantine (BoQ)at NAIA, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

The Bureau of Quarantine has issued a memorandum on July 30 to all foreign airlines that  health checklists for the Ebola Virus must be distributed prior to landing.

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These forms must be filled out by the disembarking passengers and will then be submitted to quarantine desks.

Passengers coming from all destinations will also have to walk past thermal scanners set up in quarantine desks.

“We are not merely monitoring Africa or Middle East,” Anastacio said. In June, the President signed an executive order mandating the creation of a Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

These emerging infectious diseases include Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Avian Influenza, Ebola, and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

The tighter airport screening came on the heels of the rising death toll in the outbreak, which according to the World Health Organization “moves faster than the efforts to control it.” The outbreak has killed 887 in Africa as of Monday.

Anastacio said health authorities at the airport would not let a single suspected case slip by, thus making their protocols stricter than ever.

On the health declaration checklist, the passengers are asked about their port of origin, their seat number on the plane, and the countries they have visited in the last two weeks. Personal information like their names, address and contact details are sought.

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Passengers must answer if they have experienced any symptoms similar to those of Ebola virus, which include fever, headache, sore throat, cough and diarrhea.

Due to the influx of passengers that the BoQ must screen, it is now in need of more doctors and nurses to be stationed at the airport.

Anastacio said currently, the BoQ has started the process to hire 10 additional doctors and 10 nurses to augment its pool of medical personnel. The quarantine desks at NAIA has 41 nurses and 14 doctors spread out in different shifts and all four terminals.

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TAGS: Africa, airport, BoQ, Bureau of Quarantine, Cesar Anastacio, contamination, Department of Health, disease, disease control, disease prevention, doctors, Ebola virus, Foreign Nationals, Global Nation, health declaration checklist, infection, medical workers, NAIA, Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Nurses, outbreak, Overseas Filipino workers, overseas work, quarantine, Tourism, tourists, transmission, Travel, West Africa
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