DOH warns Pinoys going to Mecca vs Mers-Cov

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

MANILA -- The Department of Health (DOH) is warning Filipinos who are visiting Mecca in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) to be wary against the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus (Mers-Cov).

Mers-Cov is a highly fatal respiratory illness presenting as an influenza-like illness characterized by fever, cough, and often with diarrhea.

The Philippines became Wednesday the first Southeast Asian country and the 12th in the world to record a Mers-CoV case in the person of an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Read the related story here.

In his Twitter post Wednesday, DOH–National Epidemiology Center (NEC) Director Dr. Eric Tayag warned Filipinos who are set to perform Umrah in KSA to be vigilant over their personal health as a case reported in Malaysia was found to have had a history of Umrah.

Umrah is a pilgrimage to Mecca that is recommended, but not obligatory, to all Muslims all over the world and can be undertaken at any time of the year.

The Philippines and Malaysia are the first two countries in Asia outside the Middle East region that have laboratory-confirmed Mers-Cov cases.

The Bureau of Quarantine has already strengthened its monitoring efforts for all incoming passengers in all ports and airports.

Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz also urged OFWs to follow public health advisories.

“We are urging our OFWs to remain calm while pursuing efforts to protect themselves against the threat,” Baldoz said.

She added that among the precautions are: to observe proper cough manners, to wash hands frequently, and to not get close to any person suspected of having the virus.

Baldoz said the Dole will closely coordinate with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in monitoring the situation to ensure the welfare of OFWs against the health threat.

On August 29, 2013, a 41 year-old Filipina nurse also died of severe Mers-Cov infection in Riyadh, KSA. (HDT)

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