DoH on bird flu: Don’t panic
MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Health said it has enough personnel to monitor travellers entering the country to prevent the spread of H7N9 bird flu strain in the Philippines.
The DoH’s Bureau of Quarantine gave the assurance Wednesday, a day after Hong Kong reported its first case human case of H7N9 avian flu, in a possible sign the virus is spreading beyond mainland China since it first emerged there earlier this year.
In an interview over Inquirer Radio 990AM, Bureau of Quarantine chief Dr. Egdardo Sabitsana said the agency now has 80 additional personnel to also monitor incoming travellers in the country’s other international ports, including in Davao, Cebu, Iloilo and Aklan.
The additional personnel, he said, is composed of doctors, assistant doctors, and nurses.
Apart from thermal scanners, which monitor the body temperature of arriving passengers, Sabitsana said the bureau also rely on advisories being sent by authorities from the origin of a particular flight.
If a passenger is determined to be carrying a virus, Sabitsana said the traveller will be quarantined at once, and brought to a designated hospital.
Passengers sitting close to sick traveller will be monitored, and their contact information will be noted for future reference.
But the bureau advised the public to stay calm.
“Don’t panic. The Bureau of Quarantine [and other concerned authorities] . . . are on top of this pressure,” Sabitsana said.
In Hong Kong, a 36-year-old Indonesian maid has been hospitalized and in critical condition.
The maid had a history of traveling across the border to the mainland city of Shenzhen to buy, slaughter and eat chickens, said the southern Chinese financial hub’s Health Secretary Ko Wing-man late Monday.
H7N9 was first identified April. It has sickened 139 people and killed 45 in China and Taiwan.
It appears to have stalled since Chinese authorities cracked down on live animal markets following the initial outbreak.
But scientists fear the virus will re-emerge in the winter, when influenza is most active. With reports from Radio Inquirer 990AM and Associated Press
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