OFW NURSE INFECTED WITH 'MERS' ARRIVES IN MANILA

A vacationing Filipino nurse from the United Arab Emirates was found to be infected with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus (MERS-CoV). The Department of Health (DOH) said the 45-year-old man is now in isolation in an unidentified hospital. Health Undersecretary Ted Herbosa told The STAR the patient came in contact with a Filipino paramedic who died from the virus last April 8. “They work in the same hospital so he paid the patient a visit last April 6,” he said. “The patient died last April 8 and on April 14 he took a flight back home. But before leaving, he was traced to have had contacts with the patient so he underwent testing.” Herbosa said the nurse was en route to the Philippines when Abu Dhabi health authorities notified the Philippine embassy that he has tested positive for MERS-CoV.

ALSO: OFW died of Mers-CoV in Saudi Arabia, says family

An overseas Filipino worker from Maguindanao, who had worked in Saudi Arabia about five years already, recently died of suspected Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus (Mers-CoV), the family said here. Tidting Khalifa of Matanog, Maguindanao, said her 44-year old daughter, Husna, had been taken to the King Fahd Hospital in Jeddah and died there on April 12. Husna, he said, had been in Saudi Arabia since 2009, on an assumed passport belonging to a Norisa Naing. “It was given to her by her recruiter,” he said, without identifying the recruiter. Khalifa, quoting information the family got from sources – including other relatives working in Jeddah — said his daughter had suffered from flu-like symptoms before being taken to the King Fahd hospital. But she died a few days later. Her remains were buried there due to quarantine restrictions, he said.READ MORE...

ALSO: Govt help sought in repatriating remains of Pinoy MERS victim in UAE

The family of the Filipino health worker who died of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus in Abu Dhabi has appealed for government help in repatriating his remains. A report on GMA News' “24 Oras” said the family of 40-year-old Abundio Esporlas is from Leyte province and is among the thousands of families affected by Typhoon Yolanda last November. Esporlas' remains have already been cremated, the report said. “Gusto lang namin na... yung remains ng kapatid namin, na maiuwi dito nang maayos. Kasi di namin alam kung yung paglilibingan ng kapatid namin ay maayos doon,” said one of Esporlas' sisters in Palompon town. The family is also asking the government to send one of his siblings to go to the Middle East to facilitate the process of repatriating his remains.

ALSO: DOH wants all Etihad EY 0424 passengers tested for MERS virus

All passengers of an Etihad flight that arrived in Manila on April 15 must immediately contact the Department of Health because it was the same carrier taken by a Filipino male nurse, who was diagnosed as having the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus, to fly back to the Philippines. “To rule out the possibility that they may have been similarly exposed to the MCV, the DOH is directing all those who traveled with this worker on Etihad Flight Number EY 0424 that arrived at the NAIA on 15 April, to call up DOH,” the department said in a press statement. The DOH is now conducting an intensive search for people who may have had possible contact with the male nurse. Passengers may call the DOH through telephone numbers 711-1001; 711-1002; 0922-884-1564; 0920-949-8419; 0915-772-5621. Following the death of a Malaysian national on April 13, who went on a pilgrimage to Mecca, DOH spokesperson and Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag said Filipinos who traveled to Mecca for umrah should also report any illness when they return to the Philippines. The Malaysian national is said to be the first MERS-related death in Asia and outside the Middle East. A report by The Star said the man developed respiratory complications after returning from Mecca. MORE...

ALSO: WHO warns vs spread of MERS-Cov, urges vigilance in taking precautions

With the recent death of a Filipino health worker in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (MERS-CoV) and the arrival of another infected OFW here, the World Health Organization (WHO) urged healthcare facilities and the general public to take precautions to prevent the virus from spreading further. “Health-care facilities that provide for patients suspected or confirmed to be infected with MERS-CoV should take appropriate measures to decrease the risk of transmission of the virus from an infected patient to other patients, health-care, workers and visitors,” WHO said in its advisory posted on its website Friday. “It is not always possible to identify patients with MERS-CoV early because some have mild or unusual symptoms. For this reason, it is important that health-care workers apply standard precautions consistently with all patients – regardless of their diagnosis – in all work practices all the time,” it said. An OFW who arrived in the country Wednesday from UAE was found to have tested positive for MERS-CoV and was immediately placed in quarantine along with members of his family who picked him up at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). The male health worker was tested by doctors in UAE but left for Manila before the results were released. The Department of Health (DOH) was immediately informed about the patient’s test results. DOH Secretary Enrique Ona previously said that though the OFW showed no symptoms of the virus, they were tracing the people who have had contact with him on the plane to have them tested for MERS-CoV as well. “We just want to make sure that these people had no MERS-CoV and had no symptoms. These are all precautionary measures,” Ona said.READ MORE...


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OFW with MERS arrives in Manila

FROM THE CENTER OF COMMUNICABLE DISEASES: Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is viral respiratory illness first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. It is caused by a coronavirus called MERS-CoV. Most people who have been confirmed to have MERS-CoV infection developed severe acute respiratory illness. They had fever, cough, and shortness of breath. About half of these people died. So far, all the cases have been linked to six countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula. No cases have been identified in the U.S. This virus has spread from ill people to others through close contact. However, the virus has not shown to spread in a sustained way in communities. The situation is still evolving. CDC is working with partners to better understand the risks of this virus, including the source, how it spreads, and how infections might be prevented. CDC has provided information for travelers and is working with health departments, hospitals, and other partners to prepare for possible cases in the United States.

MANILA, APRIL 21, 2014 (PHILSTAR) By Sheila Crisostomo - A vacationing Filipino nurse from the United Arab Emirates was found to be infected with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

The Department of Health (DOH) said the 45-year-old man is now in isolation in an unidentified hospital.

Health Undersecretary Ted Herbosa told The STAR the patient came in contact with a Filipino paramedic who died from the virus last April 8.

“They work in the same hospital so he paid the patient a visit last April 6,” he said.

“The patient died last April 8 and on April 14 he took a flight back home. But before leaving, he was traced to have had contacts with the patient so he underwent testing.”

Herbosa said the nurse was en route to the Philippines when Abu Dhabi health authorities notified the Philippine embassy that he has tested positive for MERS-CoV.

The embassy in turn informed the DOH, he added.

Herbosa said based on that information, the DOH was able to intercept the nurse at the airport on April 15.

“We informed him about the results of his test and since he is a nurse, he understood and voluntarily submitted himself for isolation in a hospital,” he said.

“We also put his wife, two children and a house helper who met him at the airport in quarantine.”

Herbosa said the DOH had also placed in quarantine five other overseas Filipino workers who came home with the nurse.

“So the DOH is now observing 10 persons because of contact tracing,” he said. “The worker who got in contact with the patient who died in the Middle East and his nine contacts.”

Herbosa said the nurse was not manifesting any symptoms of MERS-CoV like cough, fever or colds.

The nurse was subjected to photo chromatography reaction test at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine since it will take time before they can get the results of his laboratory tests, he added.

The DOH is expecting the results to come out by Friday.

It is sending on Sunday an epidemiology expert and an infectious disease specialist to the UAE to assist five other Filipino paramedics infected with MERS-CoV.

The Bureau of Quarantine is monitoring incoming passengers at airports and seaports, Herbosa said.

Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said the DOH must ensure that all necessary precautions are taken to prevent the virus from spreading in the country.

“There is a need for the Department of Health to act on this new strain of SARS and immediately equip our local hospitals with the proper remedy in order to prevent the spread of this virus in the Philippines,” he said.

MERS-CoV cases have also been reported in Abu Dhabi, Jordan, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Britain, France, Italy and Germany, he added.

Rodriguez said Egyptian virologist Ali Mohamed Zaki reported the new virus strain in September 2012 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

“MERS-CoV is the sixth new type of coronavirus like SARS,” he said.

“The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged all member-states to be on guard against MERS-CoV as six new cases were recorded in Saudi Arabia late last year.

“The six new patients – three women and three men – are from Riyadh with ages ranging from 14 to 79 years. One patient experienced mild symptoms of MERS-CoV, while the others were hospitalized.”

A total of 176 cases of MERS-CoV worldwide have been reported since September 2012, with 58 deaths, Rodriguez said. – With Jess Diaz

FROM THE INQUIRER

OFW died of Mers-CoV in Saudi Arabia, says family By Nash Maulana
Inquirer Mindanao 6:18 pm | Sunday, April 20th, 2014

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – An overseas Filipino worker from Maguindanao, who had worked in Saudi Arabia about five years already, recently died of suspected Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus (Mers-CoV), the family said here.

Tidting Khalifa of Matanog, Maguindanao, said her 44-year old daughter, Husna, had been taken to the King Fahd Hospital in Jeddah and died there on April 12.

Husna, he said, had been in Saudi Arabia since 2009, on an assumed passport belonging to a Norisa Naing.

“It was given to her by her recruiter,” he said, without identifying the recruiter.

Khalifa, quoting information the family got from sources – including other relatives working in Jeddah — said his daughter had suffered from flu-like symptoms before being taken to the King Fahd hospital.

But she died a few days later.

Her remains were buried there due to quarantine restrictions, he said.

Mers-CoV has been giving Saudi health authorities a serious headache since first discovered there in 2012.

Victims suffering from Mers-CoV develop severe acute respiratory illness such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

About 50 percent of the 206 victims diagnosed with the viral disease had died, the Saudi Ministry of Health said.

Saudi health officials last week even shut down the emergency unit of the King Fahd Hospital in Jeddah after a spike in cases of suspected Mers recorded there this month.

The media in nearby Gulf states recently reported that at least 15 workers at the hospital have also shown flu-like symptoms but the report has not been confirmed by Saudi health officials.

FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK

Govt help sought in repatriating remains of Pinoy MERS victim in UAE April 16, 2014 9:18pm 2777 23 0 2806


PHOTO FROM INQUIRER: Department of Health Secretary Enrique Ona, shows how the thermal scanner of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) terminal 3 works by detecting high temperature (fever) from a passenger on Wednesday. GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

The family of the Filipino health worker who died of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus in Abu Dhabi has appealed for government help in repatriating his remains.

A report on GMA News' “24 Oras” said the family of 40-year-old Abundio Esporlas is from Leyte province and is among the thousands of families affected by Typhoon Yolanda last November.

Esporlas' remains have already been cremated, the report said.

“Gusto lang namin na... yung remains ng kapatid namin, na maiuwi dito nang maayos. Kasi di namin alam kung yung paglilibingan ng kapatid namin ay maayos doon,” said one of Esporlas' sisters in Palompon town.

The family is also asking the government to send one of his siblings to go to the Middle East to facilitate the process of repatriating his remains.

OWWA assistance

Meanwhile, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) has promised financial assistance to Esporlas' family.

According to the “24 Oras” report, the family will receive P100,000 in death benefits, and P20,000 in burial assistance.

A scholarship grant for Esporlas' younger siblings and a P50,000 livelihood assistance package will also be extended to his parents.

Beyond material assistance, OWWA has also sent a welfare officer to give counselling to Esporlas' kin. — Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

DOH wants all Etihad EY 0424 passengers tested for MERS virus By AMITA O. LEGASPI, GMA NewsApril 17, 2014 3:08pm 0 1 0 9

All passengers of an Etihad flight that arrived in Manila on April 15 must immediately contact the Department of Health because it was the same carrier taken by a Filipino male nurse, who was diagnosed as having the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus, to fly back to the Philippines.

“To rule out the possibility that they may have been similarly exposed to the MCV, the DOH is directing all those who traveled with this worker on Etihad Flight Number EY 0424 that arrived at the NAIA on 15 April, to call up DOH,” the department said in a press statement.

The DOH is now conducting an intensive search for people who may have had possible contact with the male nurse.

Passengers may call the DOH through telephone numbers 711-1001; 711-1002; 0922-884-1564; 0920-949-8419; 0915-772-5621.

Following the death of a Malaysian national on April 13, who went on a pilgrimage to Mecca, DOH spokesperson and Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag said Filipinos who traveled to Mecca for umrah should also report any illness when they return to the Philippines.

The Malaysian national is said to be the first MERS-related death in Asia and outside the Middle East.

A report by The Star said the man developed respiratory complications after returning from Mecca.

First reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012, MERS is a novel virus often referred to as the Middle East version of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS. Signs of MERS may constitute fever, cough, shortness of breath, and diarrhea.

At present, the World Health Organization “does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event nor does it currently recommend the application of any travel or trade restrictions.”

Tracing other passengers

The DOH has been conducting “intensive contact tracing” of the 12 passengers seated near the Filipino nurse who contracted the disease.

"It will certainly depend on the seat arrangement if he is in the middle we have to trace those in the front or back. At the same time, we will check other people na nagkaroon ng possible contact," Dr. Emmanuel Labella, director of the Bureau of Quarantine said Wednesday.

The Filipino nurse returned to the country from United Arab Emirates on Tuesday afternoon. He was the first reported case of MERS in the Philippines.

He was with his wife, two children and a helper when they took Etihad EY 0424 back to the Philippines. All of them were quarantined, including five others who fetched them from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, as they were possibly exposed to the MERS virus.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona earlier said the nurse was exposed to a Filipino paramedic who died from MERS last week in the UAE. The male nurse was tested while he was still in the UAE and the positive results came out when he arrived in the Philippines.

The Filipino nurse was on his way to his hometown from NAIA when the DOH was able to track him down and asked him and his family and the people who fetched them to report to the nearest hospital.

The nurse and his group were tested for MERS, and the results of the laboratory tests will be released on Friday, April 18.

The male nurse is now confined at the hospital while his companions are under observation by doctors.

Disease-related risks

The DOH said the male nurse understood the risks related to the disease and has been cooperative with the department.

The Health Department has been sending out an advice to Filipinos abroad who may have contracted a respiratory illness to see their healthcare provider and talk to them about their recent their travels and exposure to other people.

The Bureau of Quarantine, on the other hand, has strengthened the monitoring of incoming passengers in ports and airports.

The DOH also reminded the public to observe proper cough manners, such as covering the mouth, and frequent handwashing.

Meanwhile, the Health Department sent an epidemiology expert and an infectious disease specialist to the UAE to assist overseas Filipinos following the report of a Filipino paramedic who supposedly died of MERS on April 11. Five other Filipinos were found positive of the virus but they are now doing well and seemed to be on the way to recovery. - VS, GMA News

FROM THE INQUIRER

WHO warns vs spread of MERS-Cov, urges vigilance in taking precautions By Matikas Santos  INQUIRER.net  1:50 pm | Friday, April 18th, 2014


The World Health Organization (WHO) has recorded 243 infection cases of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome – Corona Virus (MERS-CoV) worldwide as of April 17, 2014, the latest include a man in Malaysia who came from a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. He is the first confirmed case in Southeast Asia of the spreading virus.

MANILA, Philippines – With the recent death of a Filipino health worker in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (MERS-CoV) and the arrival of another infected OFW here, the World Health Organization (WHO) urged healthcare facilities and the general public to take precautions to prevent the virus from spreading further.

“Health-care facilities that provide for patients suspected or confirmed to be infected with MERS-CoV should take appropriate measures to decrease the risk of transmission of the virus from an infected patient to other patients, health-care, workers and visitors,” WHO said in its advisory posted on its website Friday.

“It is not always possible to identify patients with MERS-CoV early because some have mild or unusual symptoms. For this reason, it is important that health-care workers apply standard precautions consistently with all patients – regardless of their diagnosis – in all work practices all the time,” it said.

An OFW who arrived in the country Wednesday from UAE was found to have tested positive for MERS-CoV and was immediately placed in quarantine along with members of his family who picked him up at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

The male health worker was tested by doctors in UAE but left for Manila before the results were released. The Department of Health (DOH) was immediately informed about the patient’s test results.

DOH Secretary Enrique Ona previously said that though the OFW showed no symptoms of the virus, they were tracing the people who have had contact with him on the plane to have them tested for MERS-CoV as well.

“We just want to make sure that these people had no MERS-CoV and had no symptoms. These are all precautionary measures,” Ona said.

Continued surveillance

WHO said that it has recorded 243 confirmed cases of MERS-CoV worldwide, including 93 deaths since September 2012.

“Patients should be managed as potentially infected when the clinical and epidemiological clues strongly suggest MERS-CoV, even if an initial test on a nasopharyngeal swab is negative. Repeat testing should be done when the initial testing is negative, preferably on specimens from the lower respiratory tract,” WHO said.

“WHO encourages all Member States to continue their surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and to carefully review any unusual patterns,” it said.

The public is advised to avoid going to farms where the virus is known to have infected animals and to practice proper hygiene measures.

“People at high risk of severe disease due to MERS-CoV should avoid close contact with animals when visiting farms or barn areas where the virus is known to be potentially circulating,” WHO said.

“For the general public, when visiting a farm or a barn, general hygiene measures, such as regular hand washing before and after touching animals, avoiding contact with sick animals, and following food hygiene practices, should be adhered to,” it said.

WHO advised governments to immediately notify them regarding new cases of infection as well as the possible exposure of people around whoever has been infected.

“All Member States are reminded to promptly assess and notify WHO of any new case of infection with MERS-CoV, along with information about potential exposures that may have resulted in infection and a description of the clinical course,” WHO said.

“Investigation into the source of exposure should promptly be initiated to identify the mode of exposure, so that further transmission of the virus can be prevented,” it said.

A Malaysian had reportedly died in his home town in the southern state of Johor after coming back from a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia’s holy city of Mecca last March 29.

Despite the spread of MERS-CoV to Philippines and Malaysia, WHO said it would not yet recommend special screening at points of entry or recommend any travel or trade restrictions.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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