4 Hajj pilgrims being observed for symptoms of MERS-CoV
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Four more Muslim pilgrims, who recently returned from Saudi Arabia, were being closely monitored by health authorities here on suspicion of having contracted the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome – Coronavirus or MERS-CoV.
Dr. Venus Fortuna of the Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit of the Department of Health in Western Mindanao told reporters that one of those being closely monitored has been confined and under isolation at a government hospital here.
Fortuna said the three other persons were told to stay in their homes pending the result of the tests conducted on them. Three other pilgrims, who were earlier placed under surveillance on suspicion of having contracted the disease had already been cleared, she said.
A private physician, who did not want to be identified, said the one in isolation at a government hospital here was a 70-year-old man, who had shown signs similar to those that afflicted MERS-CoV patients.
“The old man who came from Hajj was initially confined at a private hospital but was later transferred to a government hospital after he was found to have been afflicted with MERS-CoV,” the source said.
But according to city health officer, Dr. Rodelin Agbulos, unless the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Manila confirms that the man has MERS-CoV, his case remains just a suspected infection.
Abby Marquez of the Public Information Office of the Zamboanga City Medical Center said all four patients who were tested were senior citizens and they all came from the annual pilgrimage in Mecca.
Yasser Apion, legal officer of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) here, said majority of the 3,000 pilgrims from Western Mindanao areas had already come home.
He said the NCMF, which fielded medical supervisors to the hajj, had not monitored serious cases of illnesses among returning pilgrims.
“We know of some pilgrims, who experienced headaches, colds, coughs but nothing serious. Their illnesses were due to the climate, long walk and the stress in travel. But when they got back to our country, they were already okay,” Apion said.
He said the NCMF has not encountered any MERS-CoV case among returning pilgrims to Western Mindanao.
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