2 suspected of MERS-CoV quarantined

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 18 Feb) – An Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) from this city and a visiting flight attendant are currently undergoing quarantine due to possible infection with the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (MERS-CoV).

Dr. Mely Lastimoso, epidemiology and surveillance unit head of the City Health Office (CHO), said Wednesday the two, who recently arrived from the Middle East, were placed on hospital quarantine after exhibiting suspected symptoms of MERS-CoV.

She said the OFW, who is a female domestic helper, is currently under isolation at the Cotabato Regional Medical Center (CRMC) in Cotabato City while the flight attendant is confined in a private hospital here.

The CHO earlier referred the OFW to the CRMC to ensure proper observation and treatment of her case, she said.

The CRMC had been designated by the Department of Health as the main isolation and treatment facility in Region 12 for suspected cases of MERS-CoV and other emerging infectious diseases.

Lastimoso said the flight attendant, who had travelled to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia before visiting the city, submitted herself to testing and quarantine for MERS-CoV after showing suspected symptoms like cough and colds.

But she said the patient’s condition has already been improving based on their latest monitoring.

“Both are still under the 14-day quarantine period so they remain under close observation,” she said in an interview over Brigada News TV here.

Lastimoso clarified that the two patients were not among the passengers of Saudi Airlines Flight SV860 that arrived in Manila last Feb. 1 with a returning female nurse who later tested positive of MERS-CoV.

The patient is currently undergoing treatment at the DOH’s Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Alabang, Muntinlupa City.

The official said they remain on alert against the disease and stressed that the city is so far considered MERS-CoV-free.

She added they have established mechanisms to ensure the proper monitoring and handling of suspected MERS-CoV cases and other infectious diseases.

MERS-CoV is a highly fatal, influenza-like illness characterized by fever, cough, and often with diarrhea.

As of Feb. 5, the World Health Organization said it already recorded a total of 971 laboratory-confirmed cases and 356 deaths due to MERS-CoV infection.