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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, April 22, 2014
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6 Negrenses quarantined,
2 negative for MERS-Cov


Six Negrenses have been quarantined for possible Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona virus (MERS-CoV), but two who tested negative were released, Dr. Ernell Tumimbang, Negros Occidental provincial health officer, said yesterday.

The six Negrenses were among the 414 on board Etihad Airways flight EY 0424 that arrived in the Philippines on April 15 where one of their co-passengers was initially found positive for MERS-CoV, he said.

A nurse, not from Negros Occidental, who had come into contact with the Filipino paramedic who died of MERS-CoV in the United Arab Emirates, was on board the flight.

The unnamed nurse, however, did not show symptoms of the illness. He was already on the plane back to Manila with his family when his test results in UAE came out as positive but when retested in the Philippines the results were negative, Tumimbang added.

Tumimbang said the Negrenses identified to be on the same flight were quarantined as a precaution until their tests results come out.
Of the six, four are from Bacolod City, one from Talisay City and one from Toboso town, he said.

Throat swabs were taken on them and sent to the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine for Testing, Tumimbang said.

The four from Bacolod - a male engineer, female manager, a female nurse, and a male seafarer, as well as a male technician from Talisay were quarantined at the Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital, he added.

However, after the two from Bacolod tested negative for MERS-CoV, they were released from the hospital, he said.

The test on the Talisay resident was inconclusive and will have to be repeated, Tumimbang said.

He said the test results on the rest of the Negrenses quarantined are still being awaited.

Since this a priority infectious disease, the RITM releases resulted in 24 to 48 hours, he said.

An EB Magalona resident who returned from the UAE also went to the CLMMRH for a checkup, but was not included among those quarantined as the person did not come on the same April 15 flight whose passengers are under close watch.

He said they are also conducting contact tracing of those who came in contact with the Negrenses on Etihad Airways flight EY 0424 as a precaution, in case any of the five are found positive for MERS-CoV.

The MERS-CoV is a deadly virus related to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Its symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath and diarrhea, Tumimbang said.

MERS-CoV has, so far, infected 243 worldwide and killed 93 since March 2012, the World Health Organization said. There is no vaccine for the disease and the source is still unknown.

Tumimbang said the virus is transmitted through fluids, making washing of hands a must.

The DOH said one must use soap or hand rubs with alcohol before and after eating; when cooking and preparing food; after coughing, sneezing and using the toilets; and before and after touching animals.

The public is also reminded to practice proper etiquette by covering one’s mouth and nose while sneezing or coughing, and should avoid contact with those sick or infected with MERS-CoV, the DOH said.

Visit your doctor, a hospital or health facility immediately if symptoms of MERS-CoV manifest themselves, including persistent coughing, Tuminbang said.

Health workers dealing with suspects MERS-Cov patients have to follow DOH guidelines and use protective equipment, he added.

President Benigno Aquino has directed the DOH to intensify efforts in locating and contacting the passengers of the Etihad Airlines Flight EY 0424 who need to be screened for possible MERS-CoV.*CPG

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