(UPDATED) 10 Bicolanos travelled with MERS-CoV-positive nurse

NAGA CITY—The Bicol Medical Center (BMC) received a directive from the Department of Health (DOH) Central Office to attend to passengers from the Etihad Airways Flight No. EY0424 who may or may not exhibit symptoms of the dreaded Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (CoV).
This was confirmed by Dr. Felipe Frederico Pio in an exclusive interview by BICOL STANDARD.

The BMC Information Officer said that “We are obliged to get the passengers of the flight a nasal and throat swab even if they do not show symptoms of the viral illness.”

He added, “All communications are from the DOH Central office as to the data and statistics. Rest assured that we will inform you the soonest when we get memos from DOH central.”

Meanwhile, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Bicol Director Jocelyn Hapal said that ten of the 415 passengers who were on the Etihad Airways Flight No. EY0424 were Bicolanos.

Among the ten Bicolanos, four are from Camarines Sur; three are from Albay; and one is from Camarines Norte. Two more, whose provincial addresses in Bicol were not disclosed, stayed in Manila, while the rest returned to Bicol.

The aforementioned flight came from the United Arab Emirates and arrived in Manila last April 15.

With the ten Bicolanos on the trip was the Filipino nurse who initially tested positive for MERS CoV. A subsequent test, however by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Muntinlupa City, yielded negative results.

Earlier, the DOH explained that the MERS-CoV is not the same virus that caused severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003. First reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012, the illness is similar to the coronavirus found in bats.

The DOH has repeatedly reminded Filipinos that there are a number of ways by which one may prevent getting MERS-CoV. Among these are frequent handwashing, avoiding touching the face with unwashed hands, avoiding close contact with sick people, covering one’s mouth and nose with tissue paper when one sneezes, regularly cleaning frequently-touched surfaces, and ensuring that children follow these precautions.

UPDATE: A report just came in that at least two passengers of the Etihad Airways flight from Naga City who came home are quarantined at the Bicol Medical Center. They are now being attended to by the staff of said DOH hospital.—BICOLSTANDARD.COM

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