The Philippines Department of Health announced the confirmation of an imported Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in a foreign national on July 4 prompting the mobilization of the MERS “Task Force”.

Health Secretary Janette Garin /Philippines DOH
Health Secretary Janette Garin /Philippines DOH

On Saturday, a Middle Eastern man tested positive for the novel coronavirus at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM). He is currently monitored, stable and very cooperative. One of the patient’s close contacts has developed a cough and confirmation testing is currently in progress.

At the moment, Task Force MERS-CoV has started contact tracing of people who were possibly exposed with the said foreigner during the history of travel here in the country. Those contacted will be monitored daily by the Regional Epidemiology Service Unit until they are cleared of a possible MERS-CoV infection.

Health officials tell the public that their is no community transmission of MERS with person-to-person transmission occurring via repeated and close contact with a family member, household companion or health worker.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend the imposition of any travel, trade, or screening restrictions related to MERS-CoV. However, it is advised that travelers, whether tourists or migrant workers, should maintain a high level of vigilance, especially those coming from MERS-CoV infected countries.

The DOH reiterated its call to Filipinos who have returned recently from the Middle East to report to the nearest hospital if they experience symptoms of the MERS-Corona Virus which are similar to the indications of flu, including fever with cough, cold, or sneezing.

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. They are calling to the public to honestly fill-up the health declaration checklist (yellow form) as an initial participation to prevent MERS-CoV in entering the Philippines.

MERS-CoV is a communicable disease, so it is important that we all work together to prevent the infection from spreading.

“There is no reason to panic and we appeal to the public to respect the privacy of the patient. What is important now is for us to continue practicing proper hygiene, having adequate rest, balanced diet, all leading to a good resistance; allow us to emphasize that vigilance is still needed. Every one of us has a significant role in fighting MERS-CoV. Let us be pre-cautious, and adhere to the reminders given by the DOH. Your participation will save the lives of our families, loved ones and other people from MERS-CoV. May papel kayo dito.” Health Secretary Janette Garin concluded.

Hotlines are established 24/7 where calls may be made by our citizens and foreign nationals residing in the Philippines who may need assistance. They may be reached on the following telephone numbers: (02)711-1001; (02)711-1002; 0922-884-1564; 0920-949-8419; 0915-772-5621.

Related articles:

Philippines reports imported MERS case from Saudi Arabia

WHO on MERS in the Philippines 

Korea MERS case count up to 185, Government injects money into economy 

Thailand confirms 1st imported MERS case