OWWA-Bicol traces 8 Bicolanos as among plane passengers from UAE, refers them to DOH for MERS-CoV testing


By John Mark Escandor

LEGAZPI CITY, 29April2014 — The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Bicol regional office here had traced eight Bicolanos who were among the 174 passengers of a plane from the United Arab Emirates.

And, the Department of Health (DOH) has already tested them for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (MERS-CoV), the top OWWA Bicol regional official said on Tuesday.

Director Jocelyn Hapal said they were among the passengers who boarded Etihad Airways Flight No. EY 0424 with a male Filipino nurse initially tested positive to the deadly MERS-CoV.

Hapal said the the test has already been done but the results are still to be determined.

She said she hopes that the DOH can also provide their office with the results of the tests so that they may also know.

Of the eight, four are from Camarines Sur; 1 from Camarines Norte; and three from Albay.

Two more Bicolanos from the same flight stayed in Manila.

The male nurse who was initially tested positive to MERS-CoV in UAE arrived in Manila together with the 415 passengers, but he tested negative in two more testing conducted by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Muntinlupa City.

MERS-CoV is a communicable disease with an incubation period of 10-14 days and symptoms like fever, coughing, sneezing and runny nose for two weeks after being infected.

It is passed on through close contact with a positive carrier.

The World Health Organization has recorded 242 confirmed cases of MERS-CoV, of which 93 have died since it was first discovered in March 2012 in Saudi Arabia.

Reports showed that at least eight overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) have been found positive of the virus.

One OFW died in Saudi Arabia on Aug. 29 last year while another OFW succumbed to the deadly infection on April 10 this year.

Hapal cautioned the public not to panic as the eight Bicolano passengers are not yet confirmed positive as the test results are still to be determined in Manila.

The testing of MERS-CoV is done through nose-and-throat swab.(PNA)


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