Filipino sailor in Togo undergoes tests for Ebola | Global News

Filipino sailor in Togo undergoes tests for Ebola

DFA spokesman Charles Jose. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The government is trying to verify a report that a Filipino is one of two persons being tested for Ebola infection in Togo, a country in the African region hit by the worst outbreak of the deadly disease.

“There is no update yet,” Charles Jose, spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), said in a text message yesterday.


Jose said the DFA was trying to obtain more information about the Filipino mentioned in news reports from Togo in West Africa.


According to the African news website, two persons, one of them a Filipino, are being quarantined in Lomé, the capital of Togo, while health authorities await the results of test being conducted abroad.


Quoting the head of the isolation center at Lomé Academic Hospital of Togo, the news website said the Filipino being quarantined was a 32-year-old seafarer who arrived in Lomé on board a ship from Cameroon and Nigeria.

The other suspected case is a student who visited worst-hit Sierra Leone from Aug. 10 to 14 as part of a religious journey, the news website said.

Togo, officially the Togolese Republic, is bordered by Ghana to the west, Benin to the east and Burkina Faso to the north. It extends to the Gulf of Guinea, where Lomé is located.

At least 2,473 people in West Africa have been sick in the current outbreak of Ebola and more than 1,200 of them, mostly in Sierra Leone, have died, according to the World Health Organization.



Health declaration

In Manila, officials of the Bureau of Quarantine at Ninoy Aquino International Airport  yesterday warned incoming travelers against not taking the health declaration checklist seriously.

Alexander Oba, airports and ports division chief of the quarantine bureau, an agency under the Department of Health (DOH), said he had observed that most passengers would leave the checklist incomplete.

“[Many] would just indicate their cities while others would write down their house number but not the street,” Oba said during a seminar at the airport, stressing the importance of complete and accurate addresses for future use.

“Without their exact addresses, it would be difficult for us to track them in the event that a copassenger exhibited symptoms of Ebola,” Oba said.

21-day incubation period

He explained that since the incubation period, or the time interval between getting infected and coming down sick, is from two to 21 days, there is a possibility that travelers carrying the Ebola virus do not show symptoms of the disease when they arrive at the airport.

“It is possible that a carrier would arrive in Manila healthy. Thus, he or she would still be able to visit places or interact with his community,” Oba said.

As soon as the carriers show symptoms of Ebola hemorraghic fever, health authorities have to alert their regional and local offices to quarantine them and all the people they have come in contact with, Oba said.

The symptoms of Ebola include fever, muscle pain, diarrhea, weakness and internal bleeding.

The Ebola virus can be transmitted through direct contact (through broken skin and mucous membranes) with the bodily fluids of an infected person (blood, saliva, urine and semen).

Bigger problem

“There is a bigger problem if we don’t have their exact addresses [because] the virus can spread really fast,” he said.

As in the case of a Filipino migrant worker who returned recently from the United Arab Emirates and tested positive for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), health authorities in the Philippines scrambled to trace all his copassengers on the Etihad Airways flight that brought him home, Obad said.

In an event like that, he said, the DOH would need to obtain the records of the DFA and other government agencies, “and that would take time.”

But the addresses in those records may also be incomplete, he said.

For that reason, Oba said the quarantine bureau planned to coordinate with the airlines and the officials of the Airline Operators Council (AOC) to develop ways to encourage travelers to write down their complete addresses and fill out the health checklist accurately.

“We will speak with the AOC to seek its help in correcting this,” he said.



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No official report yet on Filipino suspected of Ebola in Togo

TAGS: Charles Jose, Ebola, Ebola outbreak, Ebola virus, Togo

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