Palace: 100 of over 400 Etihad passengers tested negative from MERS-CoV

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Monday, April 21, 2014

ONE hundred of the more than 400 passengers of April 15 Etihad Airways flight EY0424 have tested negative from deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), Malacanang said Monday.

Those passengers were among those who were with the male Filipino health worker from the United Arab Emirates who was initially tested positive of MERS-CoV. But after undergoing another test at a hospital here, the Filipino worker was cleared from the virus.

"As of 8 a.m. today, 173 out of 414 passengers or 42 percent have been contacted. Of this number, 100 passengers or 24 percent have been tested. We are awaiting results of the test on the 73 other passengers. All 100 passengers tested negative," Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a press briefing.

He said President Benigno Aquino III has directed the Department of Health (DOH) and the Inter-Agency Task Force MERS-CoV to intensify efforts in locating and contacting more than 200 passengers of the April 15 Etihad flight who have not been tested for the disease.

Coloma said Aquino has instructed the DOH to ensure that all the passengers undergo a free nose and throat swabbing tests for the MERS-CoV in public hospitals or DOH-accredited medical facilities.

He reiterated the government's call for the more than 200 passengers of Flight EY0424 to coordinate directly with the DOH through its 24-hour hotlines: 711-1001; 711-1002; 0922-884-1564; 0920-949-8419; and 0915-772-5621.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) is one of the agencies assisting the DOH in tracing and locating the flight EY0424 passengers, said PNP spokesperson Chief Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac. In fact, the police in Pasig City have located one of the 414 passengers and was immediately turned-over to the DOH to undergo medical check-up.

Sindac said that if some passengers refuse to cooperate, the assisting PNP personnel will employ reasonable force in accordance with the Quarantine Law of 2004.

"We will have to extend police powers to help the DOH. Meron kaming inherent police power to compel somebody in the line of public safety," Sindac said.

The Bureau of Quarantine's alert bulletin for Filipinos and foreign nationals traveling to and from countries in the Arabian Peninsula (Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, and United Arab Emirates) stands.

Coloma said the government effort to locate and contact the passengers is in accordance with the World Health Organization's (WHO) protocol in dealing with communicable or infectious diseases.

"Ang protocol kasi ng WHO hinggil dito dapat ay matunton ang lahat ng mga carrier through active surveillance and they should undergo testing, dahil may 14-day incubation period ito," Coloma said. (SDR/Third Anne Peralta/Sunnex)

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