Philippines keeping eye on Ebola virus

MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday announced the conduct of strict monitoring in airports and other ports of entry in the country as preventive measure against the possible spread of the highly infectious Ebola virus disease (EVD) which already killed almost 700 people in West Africa.

Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona said that strict infection control is being done including instructing quarantine staff to make sure that passengers coming into the country will have to undergo check-up and thermal scanning especially those showings signs of fever at the airports.

In a media briefing at the DOH head office in Manila, Ona said they are coordinating with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in advising passengers on these strict measures particularly those arriving from Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Kenya and other countries affected with EVD.

“As far as ebola virus is concerned, just like in handling MERS-CoV ( Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) and even in previous so-called viral influenza diseases in the past, all efforts are being done, we have given instruction to our staff in quarantine to make sure to inspect people who arrive at the airports,” Ona said.

“We are doing everything to make sure that it does not reach us, or that our people or other people all Filipinos or foreigner especially those who will come here, will not be the source of infection,” added Ona.

He said there is no need to restrict travel for countries with reported EVD noting there is no recommendations yet from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Ona assured that the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) has the capacity to detect whether a person is positive of EVD.

Ona added that a workshop will be conducted for the agency’s staff and doctors, and other concerned agencies on the preventive measures against the Ebola virus.

EVD, which could be fatal up to 90 percent of infected victims, is a severe acute viral illness often characterized by the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding. Laboratory findings include low white blood cell and platelet counts and elevated liver enzymes.

People are infectious as long as their blood and secretions contain the virus. Ebola virus was isolated from semen 61 days after onset of illness in a man who was infected in a laboratory.

The usual incubation period, or the time interval from infection to onset of symptoms, is two to 21 days.PNA


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