Philippine news agency, ABS-CBN is reporting that at least three patients at the Batangas Medical Center (BMC) have been isolated and are under observation for suspected Middle east Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection.

Image/Maureen Metcalfe; Azaibi Tamin
Image/Maureen Metcalfe; Azaibi Tamin

The unnamed patients are currently undergoing laboratory tests for the novel virus. “The usual incubation period is two weeks, but if the lab tests return negative, we can already send them home,”according to Dr. Ramoncito Magnaye, medical director of BMC.

The three are among the 400 passengers who shared an Etihad Airways flight with a nurse who was initially believed to have been infected with the virus. Testing by the  Philippines’ Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) on the Filipino nurse turned out to be negative for MERS-CoV.

In related news Monday, the Philippine government  released an eight-point precautionary advisory for Filipinos residing in the Middle East to avoid being infected with the fast-spreading MERS coronavirus. At least two Filipino health workers died from MERS, one in Saudi Arabia and one in the United Arab Emirates. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page.

The eight recommended health measures are as follows: (1) Practice proper hand hygiene always, by washing your hands with soap or hand rubs with alcohol before and after eating; before and after handling, cooking and preparing food; after coughing, sneezing and using the toilets; and before and before and after touching animals; (2) Practice proper cough etiquette by covering your mouth and nose while sneezing or coughing. Use a facial tissue when coughing or sneezing and cover your mouth and nose with it. Dispose the tissue in a waste basket; (3) Avoid contact with farm and domesticated animals, including camels; (4) Avoid contact with sick or infected with MERS-CoV. If you have respiratory illness, stay home and wear a surgical mask to protect your family members; (5)  If you are a health worker, strictly follow infection control protocols in your work; (6) Visit your doctor, a hospital or health facility immediately if symptoms of MERS-CoV manifest itself, including, persistent coughing, and other; (7) If you were in close contact with a confirmed MERS-CoV patient, comply with local health regulations and postpone any trip abroad until after test results are negative; and finally (8) Practice healthy habits such as regular exercise, balanced and nutritional diet, and adequate sleep of at least 8 hours, as it would help strengthen the body’s immunity.