Manila, April 21, 2003 -- Presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye yesterday 
said it is the "civic duty" of Filipinos working or living abroad who wish 
to return to the country to submit themselves to medical screening and 
quarantine to prevent the entry of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

Bunye called on the patriotism and honesty of Filipinos, particularly those 
coming from SARS-affected countries.

He said in a radio interview that SARS could not be ignored, as the number 
of victims continues to increase despite a global effort to control the 
killer disease.

He said SARS has adversely affected the economy of countries where it has 

Reports said about $30 billion had already been lost by the world tourism 
industry due to SARS, which has infected more than 3,000 people and killed 
over a hundred others.

Bunye said President Arroyo remained confident that the SARS management 
committee would continue to do a good job in ensuring that the country 
remains free of the atypical pneumonia.

He said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations would meet in Manila 
soon to strengthen the preventive measures already adopted by most 
countries particularly those affected by SARS.

Manila International Airport Authority general manager Edgardo Manda 
yesterday asked the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to check if there is a need 
to disinfect currency bills and coins coming from SARS-infected countries.

Manda cited an observation by some medical experts that currencies, whether 
in bills or coins, from Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Vietnam, Canada and 
other infected countries could carry the SARS virus.

"There is a need to take extra-precautionary measures. One SARS victim can 
infect a large number of people," he said.

Manda earlier implemented several measures at the airport terminal to avoid 
SARS contamination.

He banned spitting, kissing, laughing and talking at the Ninoy Aquino 
International Airport.

Airport authorities also check the health condition of overseas Filipino 
workers returning to the country.

Manda is also considering the possibility of penalizing any person caught 
sneezing, coughing or blowing his nose inside the terminal.

MIAA personnel disinfect toilets, check-in counters, air bridges, 
air-conditioning units, public telephones and other key terminal areas 

Some areas of NAIA and the Manila Domestic Airport were temporarily closed 
for cleaning and disinfecting, while all drinking fountains were shut down 
since they could serve as breeding grounds for the virus.

MIAA is coordinating with the cabin crews of flights bound for the 
Philippines to check all passengers and inform the control towers of their 
destinations if they have a suspected SARS carrier inside their aircraft.

The MIAA chief directed airport personnel to wear clinical masks while at 
work, observe personal hygiene and change their uniforms immediately after 
work to avoid contamination. (Malaya)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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