MANILA, June 17 (PNA) — The Department of Health (DOH) reiterated Wednesday that preventive measures against MERSCoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus) infection are in place even as she called on the public to observe basic hygiene measures also as precautionary steps.
Health Secretary Janette L. Garin said that such hygiene measures can be done through regular hand washing with soap and water, practicing proper cough manners, and using of hand sanitizers.
“The World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend the imposition of any travel, trade, or screening restrictions related to MERSCoV,” said Sec. Garin.
Garin added that the virus cannot be easily transmitted through person-to-person, unless there is close contact with an infected person.
She also said that the people like those working in hospital facilities that provided unprotected care to an infected person with MERSCoV are the ones who are susceptible to it.
“Transmission of the virus has occurred mostly in healthcare facilities,” the health chief said.
However, she still maintained her advice that travelers, whether tourists or migrant workers, should maintain a high level of vigilance, especially those coming from MERSCoV-infected countries.
“The Bureau of Quarantine is closely monitoring all points of entry in the Philippines to ensure the surveillance of all incoming travelers from different countries,” she added.
Sec. Garin also repeated its early appeal for all incoming passengers to honestly and completely fill out the health declaration checklist (yellow form).
“Filling this up is a significant participation to prevent MERSCoV in entering the Philippines,” she said.
Recently, the DOH held a meeting with representatives of private hospitals to update/inform them of the government preparations and response to MERSCoV.
She highlighted the importance of thorough history-taking and immediate reporting of suspected cases by private hospitals.
“Everyone has a significant role in fighting MERSCoV. You are our allies,” Garin told representatives of private hospitals.
Among the DOH interventions include contact tracing of infected individuals, enhanced surveillance, capacity building of laboratories and referral hospitals, PhilHealth coverage for confirmed MERSCoV cases, and solicited support for networking with other government and non-government agencies/institutions.
She also added that the public who wants to get advice and other clarification for the procedure may contact the following DOH Hotlines (02) 711-1001 or (02) 711-1002 for further inquiry.
WHO Country Representative to the Philippines Dr. Julie Hall recently lectured on the ABCs of preventing MERSCoV transmission.
These ABCs refers to: Ask about history of travel to Middle East, Be safe by using personal protective equipment both for health care workers and patients,
According to the latest report of WHO, there have been 154 confirmed cases of MERSCoV (including 1 confirmed case in China) reported in the Republic of Korea so far, with 19 deaths.
Globally, since September 2012, WHO has been notified of 1,321 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including at least 466 related deaths.
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus called “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus” (MERSCoV).
The earliest MERSCoV was first reported in April 2012 in Saudi Arabia.
Recent studies indicate that camels are likely source of infection in humans.(PNA)