Philippines on MERS alert: Officials

IANS| Updated: Apr 19, 2014, 17:35 PM IST
Pic Courtesy:

Manila: Philippines President Benigno Aquino III has asked health authorities in the country to raise awareness among the public about the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (MERS-CoV), Health Secretary Enrique Ona said Saturday.

Ona said the department of health is working closely with the concerned government agencies to ensure public health and safety even if there has not been an epidemic or outbreak of the MERS-CoV, Xinhua reported Saturday.

"Upon the president's instructions, the department of health has mobilised Task Force MERS to create a heightened awareness among our people and prevent the spread of this communicable disease," Ona was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has reported 73 deaths due to MERS-coV after a foreign national died in its capital Riyadh Friday.

The country has been the worst hit by the deadly disease with 218 cases reported so far.

Ona said that as a precaution, he approved the issuance of Bureau of Quarantine alert bulletins to those travelling from the Middle East and through the international airports.

Of the more than 400 passengers of Etihad Airlines flight EY 0424 heading for the Philippines April 15, a male Filipino nurse tested positive for MERS-CoV when he was still in the United Arab Emirates.

He also urged the unexamined passengers of the Etihad flight to submit themselves to tests.

The DOH also asked Filipinos who have returned recently from the Middle East to report to the nearest hospital if they experienced flu-like symptoms, such as fever, cough, cold and sneezing.

Meanwhile, WHO confirmed four MERS infections in UAE Thursday, all of them healthcare workers.

The World Health Organisation (WHO), in its update Thursday, confirmed a total of 243 cases of infection, including 93 deaths, since 2012.