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Filipino envoys meet over MERS-CoV

Publication Date : 27-04-2014


The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) brought together the heads of the Philippine missions in the Middle East and Africa in a special meeting in Turkey recently to discuss strategies to prevent the spread of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), ebola and other deadly viruses to Filipinos working in these regions.

“The DFA’s goal is twofold - to safeguard the health and safety of our countrymen who are in the affected countries and to ensure that these communicable and fatal viruses do not spread,” said Jesus Yabes, DFA undersecretary for migrant workers affairs, who presided over the meeting in Ankara of ambassadors, consuls general and heads of mission in a statement released on Saturday.

The discussions included a “briefing on the MERS-CoV and ebola viruses, a survey of the public health landscape in the host countries and the possible effects of the viruses on overseas Filipinos, and a review of individual and regional contingency plans in the event of a pandemic,” the DFA said.

The officials discussed strategies for containment, how Filipinos overseas could access health treatment in their host countries, the protection of Philippine foreign service and other officials in countries where the diseases are present, and coordination with the World Health Organization (WHO) and local health offices in the host countries.

According to DFA estimates, there are more than two million Filipinos in the Middle East.

In the United Arab Emirates (UAE) earlier this month, one Filipino was confirmed to have died of MERS-CoV while five others were infected but are now recovering.

The virus, which has mostly affected people in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, has killed more than 90 since 2012, according to the WHO.

The health agency has not declared a MERS-CoV epidemic in the Arabian peninsula, but the DFA has advised Filipinos traveling home from the Middle East to ensure that they are free of the virus before flying to the Philippines.

“The DFA reiterated its advice to those travelling to the Philippines who are originating from or transiting through high-risk areas and who were identified to have been in close contact with somebody suspected to be infected with MERS-CoV to undergo testing and wait for their test results before pushing through with their travel plans,” the DFA said.

Meanwhile, there have been no reports of any Filipinos affected by the ebola virus in Africa, where an outbreak of the disease has killed at least 140 people.


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