MANILA — A Filipina nurse who went home to the country from Saudi Arabia has tested positive for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (MERS-CoV), said the Department of Health (DOH) yesterday.
Health Secretary Enrique One confirmed that the patient, identified as “AP”, tested positive for the MERS-CoV in Damman, Saudi Arabia last August 25. The 37-year-old nurse arrived in the Philippines on August 29 boarding Saudi Airlines flight SV870. She did not wait for the results of her tests. As of writing, she is at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City.
According to Leopoldo Vega, the hospital’s executive director said that both the nurse and her husband are being monitored.
Ona stressed that the country is still MERS-CoV free given that the nurse was infected in another country. He added that AP shared the same flight with another Filipina nurse named “CB” from Bulacan. CB, however, tested negative for the said virus.
“She tested negative but they took the same flight. We found out that upon their arrival in the Philippines, AP slept in CB’s house in Bulacan before taking Cebu Pacific flight SJ997 for General Santos on Aug. 31. As a precautionary measure, we also contacted her,” Ona said.
The Health Department also said that they already brought the family members of CB to the Lung Center of the Philippines for medical tests and isolation. They added that the nurse and her two grandchildren had fever last Tuesday. All were tested and yield negative results for the virus.
The DOH is still monitoring all the passengers and nurses who boarded the same planes.
Meanwhile, Ona encouraged the co-passengers to have themselves examined.
“We have activated our task force to locate the passengers. We appeal to them to cooperate with the DOH to protect themselves and their families. We are ready to do all the necessary precautions to prevent MERS-CoV from spreading here,” he said.
The Philippine embassy in Riyadh stressed that Alert Level 2 (restriction phase) is still in effect in Yemen given the current political and security tensions.
“All Filipinos are advised to restrict non-essential movement and avoid public places,” the embassy said.
Under Alert Level 2, Filipinos with existing labor contracts may return to Yemen. However, the deployment of new hires will remain suspended.