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Filipinos in Saudi told: get tested for MERS-CoV before returning to PH

By: - NewsLab Lead / @MSantosINQ
/ 12:28 PM September 04, 2014
Enrique ona

DOH Secretary Enrique Ona. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/JOAN BONDOC

MANILA, Philippines — After a Filipina nurse arriving in the country was found positive for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (MERS-CoV), the Philippine Embassy in Saudi Arabia reiterated its warning to Filipinos throughout the region to follow health guidelines to prevent being infected.

“Filipino workers in the healthcare sector should strictly follow infection control protocols in their workplaces,” the Philippine Embassy in Saudi Arabia said in a statement Thursday.

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“They are also strongly encouraged to take advantage of voluntary MERS-CoV screening tests available through their employers, especially if they intend to travel back to the Philippines,” it said.

They are advised to get the results of the tests and to carry with them a copy of the results when they come back to the Philippines so they could be checked by Filipino health authorities.

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Health Secretary Enrique Ona said in a media briefing Wednesday that they are tracking down a Filipina nurse who recently returned to the country on August 29 from Dammam, Saudi Arabia.

The nurse arrived without symptoms but had tested positive in the screening test in Dammam conducted August 25. She, however, did not wait for the test results before leaving Saudi Arabia.

“This means she is not exhibiting symptoms of the disease. She has no fever but her test [in Dammam] was positive, which means she was exposed but not yet sick,” Ona reportedly said.

All the passengers of the planes she boarded are being tracked down in order to have them tested as well, health officials said.

“We have activated a task force that includes the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Interior and Local Government to help us right away in looking for these passengers,” Ona said.

The Philippine Embassy in Saudi Arabia said that the number of infections has been declining but precautions still need to be undertaken to contain its spread.

“Despite the considerable decrease in MERS-CoV incidence in Saudi Arabia in recent months, maintaining high vigilance and caution against all types of infectious diseases (including Ebola Virus Disease) is necessary to ensure the safety of loved ones, friends and colleagues, both here in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and in the Philippines,” the Embassy said in the statement.

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“Filipinos who may have been tested or infected with the virus are strongly encouraged to report their conditions to the Embassy as soon as possible. To make a report or to obtain more information, please call the Embassy Hotline at 051 504 6362,” it said.

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TAGS: Department of Health, embassy, Enrique Ona, Filipinos, Health, MERS-CoV, test
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