Following recent reports of an American contracting Zika virus infection while in the Philippines, The Department of Health (DOH) said they expect the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue Level 2 travel notice for the archipelago.

Aedes aegypti/CDC
Aedes aegypti/CDC

Health Secretary Janette Garin said Saturday, “It would be expected because Zika has been found in the Philippines.”

This prompted Malacanang to clarify what the DOH chief said. Communications Secretary Hermilio Coloma Jr. has clarified that the United States travel alert over Zika virus advises people visiting the country to practice enhanced precautions.

According to the CDC, a Level 2 travel notice advises travelers to follow enhanced precautions for the destination. The risk to the traveler is defined as increased risk in defined settings or associated with specific risk factors; certain high-risk populations may wish to delay travel to these destinations.

Coloma said, “The Department of Health will take all the appropriate measures to prevent the spread of Zika virus to ensure the safety and health of all citizens and foreigners visiting our country.

“At present, the DOH is intensifying surveillance of possible cases of Zika virus under existing Philippine Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response system (PIDSR). Under PIDSR, all suspected cases of Zika must be reported to the Department of Health within 24 hours and subject to immediate analysis using real-time polymerase chain reaction conducted at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) or other DOH facility.”

The Philippines was added to the World Health Organization (WHO) Zika Situation report (SitRep) on Mar. 10 as the latest country to report autochthonous transmission of Zika virus.

From 1 January 2007 to 16 March 2016, Zika virus transmission was documented in a total of 59 countries and territories.