QUARANTINE FOR TRAVELLERS FROM SARS-INFECTED CITIES

Manila, March 27, 2003 -- Department of Health (DoH) Secretary Manuel
Dayrit has advised those who recently traveled from atypical
pneumonia-affected countries to voluntarily subject themselves to domestic
quarantine so it can be checked whether they have the disease.

Dayrit explained domestic quarantine means staying in the confines of one's
residence to observe whether there will be manifestations of severe acute
pneumonia syndrome (SARS).

The Health chief said recent travelers from SAR-affected countries such as
China, Singapore and Vietnam should remain in their houses for one week to
check for symptoms.

"Symptoms of the disease do not manifest from three to seven days after
contact from a suspected case. If travelers from affected countries arrive
in the Philippines within that period, they cannot be monitored by
quarantine teams at the airport since symptoms are not yet present," he said.

Dayrit noted it takes a week for the disease to incubate and that carriers
cannot transmit the disease yet within the period.

If symptoms appear within a week, he said the patient should immediately
contact the DoH for immediate confinement.

The secretary said he is thankful there are no SARS cases yet in the
country. "We have been checking for cases day in and day out. Everyday is a
blessing," he said.

He also reiterated his call to those who plan to travel to affected
countries to postpone their trip if possible.

A list released by the World Health Organization (WHO) included Canada,
China, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan,
Thailand, United Kingdom, United States and Vietnam among the list of
SARS-affected countries.

"If it (traveling) cannot be avoided please utilize the necessary
precautions to avoid contracting the disease," he said.

Dayrit advised travelers to stay at least three feet away from suspected
cases and avoid crowded areas. He added if benchmark symptoms such as fever
surface, the person should immediately consult a doctor.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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