Gov’t assures public on MERS-CoV: Don’t panic
Do not panic and be taken in by rumors about the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus, or MERS-CoV.
The twin calls were jointly made on Monday by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Health as they also told Filipinos based in the Middle East that “there is still no epidemic or outbreak of MERS-CoV” in the region.
That is why, “the World Health Organization (WHO) has not imposed travel restrictions to and from the Middle East,” the two agencies said.
In a statement, the foreign office disclosed that “one rumor alleges that United Arab Emirates health authorities have warned people to stay away for 72 hours from public places, such as malls, beaches, hospitals, parks and other locations that are believed to be hot spots of the new killer virus.”
The DFA advised Filipino migrant workers to dismiss such false claims.
“The WHO has recorded 243 confirmed cases of MERS-CoV worldwide, including 93 deaths, since March 2012,” the DFA said.
The agency noted that “there is no vaccine for the virus and its source is not yet known, although camels and bats have been pointed as possible sources.”
The DFA also urged Filipinos to practice the following health precautions for their own protection:
Avoid any contact with people infected with MERS-CoV.
If you had close contacts with a confirmed MERS-CoV patient, comply with local health regulations and postpone any foreign trip until after test results prove to be negative.
Visit a health facility immediately after symptoms of the virus—including fever, sneezing, coughing and other indications of flu—manifest themselves.
Always practice proper hand hygiene by washing your hands with soap or rub them with alcohol before and after eating and handling or cooking food.
Avoid contact with camels and other farm animals.
If you are a health worker, strictly follow infection control protocols in your place of work.
The Department of Labor and Employment said it was not yet imposing a ban on the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to the Middle East despite the growing number of MERS-CoV cases involving Filipino migrant workers.
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said such a ban would depend on the recommendation of the DFA.
The agency’s main concern is finding out if other OFWs are afflicted with the virus, she said.
At least eight OFWs have been found positive for MERS-CoV. Two of them, one in Saudi Arabia and another in the UAE, reportedly died on Aug. 29 and April 10, respectively. Jerry E. Esplanada
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