DOH reiterates call to townspeople of San Pedro, Laguna and Metro Manila not to panic over MERSCoV

By , on February 16, 2015


Department of Health (DOH) spokesperson Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy (center) confirms that a Filipina nurse who returned from Saudi Arabia on Feb. 1 tested positive with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (MERSCoV) during a press conference on Wednesday (Feb. 11, 2015). He said the nurse is under observation at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Alabang, Muntinlupa City and contact-tracing of her co-passengers in the plane is being done to ensure that local transmission of the disease can be prevented. At left is DOH Undersecretary Nemesio T. Gako. (PNA photo by Leilani S. Junio)
Department of Health (DOH) spokesperson Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy (center) confirms that a Filipina nurse who returned from Saudi Arabia on Feb. 1 tested positive with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (MERSCoV) during a press conference on Wednesday (Feb. 11, 2015). He said the nurse is under observation at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Alabang, Muntinlupa City and contact-tracing of her co-passengers in the plane is being done to ensure that local transmission of the disease can be prevented. At left is DOH Undersecretary Nemesio T. Gako. (PNA photo by Leilani S. Junio)

MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) emphasized further on Sunday that there is no reason to panic over MERSCoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus) in a press briefing held at the DOH media relations unit in Tayuman, Manila.

“We are reiterating our call for the townspeople of San Pedro, Laguna and even here in Metro Manila that there is nothing to fear about MERSCoV. The disease is not easy to be transferred. It can only be transmitted through respiratory droplets within a distance of one meter or less,” DOH Acting Secretary Janette L. Garin said.

Secretary Garin added that transmission or chance to be infected can only be possible through repeated exposure to viral movements.

“MERSCoV is not airborne disease that can spread through the air. It requires close contact,” Garin added.

“The virus can be transmitted through respiratory droplets discharged when sneezing and coughing by the person infected. If the secretion came out and went directly to the patient who is one meter or less closer to the patient, that’s the time that the virus can be possibly transferred,” she explained.

The virus incubation period is 14 days only.

The Lady Health chief made the clarification to boost their early explanation to the people of San Pedro, Laguna who got panic upon knowing that it was in the Evangelista Hospital where the confirmed MERSCoV patient had initially sought health advice upon observing that certain flu-like symptoms were occurring .

It may be recalled that the patient was reported to seek medical advice on February 2, a day after she arrived from Saudi Arabia via Saudia Flight 860 with other 220 co-passengers.

Upon referral to Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Alabang, Muntinlupa, the patient who was found also to be pregnant yield positive in the three sets of confirmatory tests done to find out her condition.

When news broke-up and disclosed by the DOH, some tricycle driver were seen to be wearing face masks, the people in the community began wearing masks and spread fear which prompted some parents to refuse to send their children to school Friday.

According to mayor Lourdes S. Cataquiz of San Pedro City, Laguna they sought the help of Department of Education (DepEd), DOH and health authorities to help explained to the people that there is nothing to fear about.

As a precautionary measure the owner of the hospital (Evangelista Hospital) decided to do the disinfection and quarantine their hospital staffs who had close contact with the patient.

“We agreed to comply with the recommended 14-day disinfection period by the DOH and World Health Organization (WHO) to help allay fears,” said Dr. Cecilia Evangelista, director and owner of the hospital.

“We once more repeat our assurance that DOH, together with RITM, Bureau of Quarantine is doing their best to ensure that the fight against emerging infectious disease is being strengthened, but the successful output also requires contribution through massive cooperation and involvement of every Filipino people coming from the Middle East countries and also the tourists,” the Lady health chief added.

She also reminded that it is important to focus on practicing good hygienic practices.

Among these good hygiene practices are frequent proper hand washing, having adequate sleep and by eating nutritious diet.

“These are all vital in the spread of infectious disease like MERSCoV, Ebola Virus Disease and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). On top of that awareness and early detection are still very important,” she further added.

The symptoms of MERSCoV are flu-like such as cough, difficulty of breathing, fever higher than 38 degrees and diarrhea.

For a person to be become possible MERSCoV patient, he/she had close contact with a MERSCOV patient, has history of travel from Middle East country where the disease originated or first recorded in 2012.