Another OFW quarantined in GenSan for suspected MERS-CoV

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/24 April) — Another returning overseas Filipino worker (OFW) here has been placed under quarantine after reportedly showing suspected symptoms of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (MERS-CoV).

Dr. Mely Lastimoso, chief of the city health office’s epidemiology and surveillance unit, said Thursday the OFW volunteered to undergo quarantine and testing for MERS-CoV after being diagnosed with respiratory infection several days after arriving from Saudi Arabia.

She said the patient arrived in Manila ahead of the April 15 Etihad Airways flight EY 0424 from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates that included a passenger who had tested positive for MERS-CoV.

“(The patient) showed suspected symptoms of MERS-CoV, specifically respiratory infection. The monitoring is still ongoing,” she said.

On Wednesday morning, Lastimoso said they took throat swabs on the OFW and immediately sent them to the Department of Health’s (DOH) Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Alabang, Muntinlupa City for the MERS-CoV tests.

Two OFWs from the city who arrived aboard Etihad’s flight EY 0424 were earlier subjected to mandatory quarantine and tests for MERS-CoV at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City, where they “captured” by DOH personnel.

But Dr. Edgardo Sandig, city health officer, said the two patients were released from quarantine on Wednesday after their tests turned out negative of the virus.

A report released by DOH Region 12’s epidemiology and surveillance unit showed that 11 of the listed 415 passengers of Etihad flight EY 0424 had been traced as either residents of the region or proceeded to visit the area.

Region 12, which is also known as the Soccsksargen Region, comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

It said nine of the passengers were returning OFWs while the two others were a visiting foreigner and an OFW from Region 6 or Western Visayas.

Three cases, including a foreigner, were listed in Kidapawan City; two each in this city, South Cotabato and Sarangani; and, one each in North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.

Meantime, health and airport police personnel here have remained on high alert for possible cases of MERS-CoV.

Sr. Insp. Marlon Dolar, head of the city airport’s aviation security unit, said they are regularly coordinating with the DOH to check whether there are incoming passengers at the airport that are included in the watchlist for the disease.

“In case there are passengers coming in that are on the list, we will immediately make a move in coordination with DOH personnel,” he said.

Lastimoso said they have prepared their personnel and the necessary facilities and equipment to properly respond to any suspected case of MERS-CoV.

She said they have been closely coordinating with the DOH to ensure the proper handling of any suspected case.

The official called on returning OFWs who originated from countries with confirmed MERS-CoV cases to immediately submit themselves to quarantine and testing upon arrival.

She added that such move is mainly a precautionary measure to prevent the possible entry and spread of the disease to the area. (MindaNews)