Davao nurse from Saudi volunteers self for MERS-CoV test

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 18 Feb) – A nurse coming home from Riyadh has voluntarily submitted to a self-quarantine at the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) last Feb. 15 for a possible case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (MERS-CoV) after feeling flu-like symptoms, according to the chair of the city council’s committee on health.

This amid the Philippines listing its first ever case of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (MERS-CoV) recorded last week.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Councilor Mary Joselle Villafuerte said the nurse left the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia last Jan. 31 and arrived in Manila Feb. 2.

The throat swabs of the patient have been sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Mandaluyong, while the patient is being monitored at the SPMC.

The nurse, being familiar with the symptoms of the communicable disease, immediately volunteered to take the tests at the SPMC.

“It’s going to take at least three days for the results to come back,” Villafuerte said.

According to the Department of Health, MERS CoV is characterized by coughs, fever, and shortness of breath, and suspected patients are those with a history of travel from the Middle East in the past 15 days.

The city is waiting for two ambulances from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), which Villafuerte said will be used for diseases like MERS-CoV and Ebola.

The units have already passed the bids and awards committee level at the charity agency, she said.

At the Francisco Bangoy International Airport, a second thermal scanner for incoming passengers is already awaiting the six plantilla positions from the city government, which Villafuerte said are the local government unit’s commitment to the monitoring of emerging diseases.

The six employees would take turns manning the equipment to check for body temperature of passengers passing through the airport.

Last week, City Health Office head Josephine Villafuerte told reporters the office was coordinating with the Department of Health regarding the confirmed MERS-CoV patient, the first in the country.

Two more have been isolated at different hospitals in Metro Manila after showing symptoms of the disease, according to a Manila Bulletin news article dated February 16.

The two passengers also flew into the Philippines last February via a Saudia Flight 860.

The DOH has classified one of the two patients as a “MERS-CoV suspect” while the other one was still considered a “patient under investigation.”