18 Ilonggos in Mers-Cov virus watch

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

HEALTH officials in Iloilo City are keeping watch of 18 Ilonggos who flew in last Tuesday with an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) exposed to the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (Mers-Cov).

All travelers from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on board Etihad Flight EY 0424 are being tracked, confirmed Dr. Glenn Alonsabe of the Department of Health (DOH) Regional Office 6 (Western Visayas).

In a phone interview, Alonsabe stressed though that the 18 "are confirmed passengers only" and should not be tagged or feared to be Mers-Cov positive. The 18 passengers, along with the other passengers, were called in for laboratory tests.


The call came as the country marked its "index patient" of Mers-Cov in the Filipino nurse who went home for the Lenten break.

Earlier concerns were raised on said "index" patient cum "carrier" after the Health Ministry of UAE disclosed a positive result on his blood sample. The DOH then conducted a follow-up testing on the OFW, but the Filipino was cleared of the Mers-Cov.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona said Saturday that local results yielded a negative finding. Yet, as a matter of heightened precaution, similar tests have been ordered following concerns addressed by Malacanang.

"We have standard procedures on the testing," Dr. Alonsabe said, adding: "These are done to all who were in that flight...regardless of whether an OFW or a tourist...they were all tested."

He also said that of the 18 Ilonggo passengers of the said flight, only one -- while tracked -- has yet to be physically seen by the DOH.

Citing issues with the passenger's stated address, Dr. Alonsabe said efforts are still underway to get hold of the last passenger to be tested.

In a report, ABS-CBN Iloilo said that of the 18, four are from the province of Antique, one from Kalibo, four from Capiz, four from Iloilo Province, one from Iloilo City, three from Negros Occidental, and one from Guimaras.

Eleven have so far undergone swab tests and reportedly in isolation at undisclosed Iloilo hospitals.

While no specifics were released on the actual location, sources said DOH isolation for the Mers-Cov watch is the same one then setup during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) incident.

Meantime, Iloilo and Caticlan airport officials have put to work their quarantine measures.

Engr. Percy Malonesio, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines manager in Iloilo City, said he has alerted his counterparts with the Bureau of Quarantine.

While in need of thermal scanners similar to what the Ninoy Aquino International Airport uses, quarantine procedures are in place, said Malonesio.

"We have our holding room ready in case someone is found to be sick," he added.

To note, the airport in Iloilo has since opened its doors to international flights bound for Hong Kong and Singapore. Western Visayas stands as home to the second largest number of OFWs in the country, and the Iloilo airport, in particular, is a gateway for Iloilo, Antique, Capiz and Guimaras-bound travelers, including the yearly one million domestic and foreign visitors of the acclaimed Boracay Island. (Sunnex)

Local news

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