INSULATION FOR SUSPECTED SARS-INFECTED PASSENGERSManila, March 29, 2003 -- Stricter measures will be imposed on passengers coming from Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and China where cases of the dreaded Severe Acute respiratory Syndrome (SARS) have been reported, an airport official said Saturday. Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) general manager Edgardo Manda said over radio dzBB that arriving passengers with high fever, coughs, and colds would be automatically brought by an ambulance to the San Lazaro Hospital in downtown Manila or to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in the suburb of Alabang south of Manila for a check-up. A medical team will man isolation areas set up at the entrance of aerobridges, which connect airplanes to the terminal, to immediately isolate possible SARS carriers. Aerobridge operators will also be required to wear masks to protect them from the disease, Manda said. Manda said the implementation of the new rules would be coordinated with the Department of Health. Health and airport officials have previously required only a voluntary quarantine of seven days for passengers arriving from SARS-afflicted countries. Manda, however, said they had no way of monitoring whether or not a person would quarantine himself, making the Philippines vulnerable to the spread of the virus should he be a carrier. SARS has claimed the life of a Filipina domestic helper based in Hong Kong. Dayrit, however, assured the public that the Philippines has remained free from the deadly disease. The World Health Organization has reported 1,485 cases of SARS from November 2002 to March 28, 2003 from at least 15 countries. It also recorded 53 deaths, the highest coming from China with 34.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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