MANILA — The World Health Organization (WHO) said over the weekend that MERSCoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus) is a disease that is not easy to be transferred from one person to another.
“The disease (referring to MERSCoV) is very difficult to spread from one person to the next. It is a disease that you do need close contact for that virus to spread from one person to the next,” said Dr. Julie Hall, WHO country representative during Friday press briefing held at the Department of Health (DOH) in Tayuman, Manila.
Dr. Hall added that even in Saudi Arabia and UAE (United Arab Emirates) where they had seen larger numbered of cases of MERSCoV, the spread to thousands of community is very rare.
“So it is really is a disease that requires close contact with someone who is sick with it. Which is why the measures taking place in the hospitals are the most important,” Hall said as she praised the efforts of Evangelista Hospital in San Pedro, Laguna which conforms with the recommendation to undergo “disinfection” of their hospital facility.
The WHO country representative further expressed its salute to the hospital (Evangelista Hospital) for its cooperation, vigilance and willingness to temporarily be close for the next 14 days as the WHO and DOH will be doing its own form of disinfection.
“That was a big sacrifice on their (Evangelista Hospital) part. But they agreed just to sow calmness on the part of the residence in the area and to ensure that there is no reason to panic,” DOH Acting Secretary Janette L. Garin said, adding that DOH is on top on the situation and doing its best in the control of any possible local transmission with close coordination with other agencies and local health units.
Garin added that 56 persons who had close contacts on the patient were located and undergone first round of testing using nose and throat swab samples.
Garin also said that for the 11 symptomatic patients who had shown flu-like symptoms since it is a “flu-season” will be further evaluated and recommended to undergo another round of tests using sputum and rectal swab samples.
Flu-like symptoms are fever, cough, and difficulty of breathing.
Aside from the 11 others who had close contact with the patient, the husband and mother in law were also being monitored since they are among those that has the probability of closer exposure to the patient.
According to WHO and DOH, the second round of tests are vital to ensure that the symptoms are not MERSCoV and in case it is, necessary treatment can be given to ensure that local transmission will be under control.
To further discourage panic, the DOH, WHO together with the local government unit of San Pedro, Laguna went personally to Laguna to conduct community assemblies to help explained to the people that the DOH is doing its best to fight MERSCoV.
The DOH also asked the cooperation of the public to be vigilant for the flu-like symptoms and asthma-like symptoms among the travelers who came from Middle East Region.
Evangelista Hospital was the hospital where the confirmed Filipina MERSCoV patient, who arrived from Saudi Arabia, was traced as the private hospital where the patient who was declared positive with MERSCoV initially seek consultation prior to confinement at RITM (Research Institute for Tropical Medicine) in Alabang, Muntinlupa City.
It was reported that a sort of panic happened in the town when tricycle drivers saw hospitals staffs therein wearing mask which prompted other residents to buy and used masks which later resulted in parents refusal to send their children back to school.
Through the cooperation with Department of Education (DepEd), DOH, LGU through the town’s mayor Lourdes Cataquiz and other local health units, San Pedronians were told not to panic and explained that the disease requires close contact with the infected person.
It was in RITM where the patient was confirmed positive with MERSCOV after undertaking series of three confirmatory testing which all yielded positive results .
The case was disclosed last Wednesday (Feb. 11) by the DOH as an act of transparency and also to make an appeal for other co-passengers of the patient through the Saudia Flight 860 to prevent any possible local transmission.
To date, out of the 220 co-passengers of the patient who arrived in the country on Feb. 1, ninety two had signified willingness to undergo testing not only to protect themselves but also of their family as well.
The hotlines of DOH for the testing are (02)7111001 and (02) 7111002.
Among the symptoms of MERSCoV are fever, cough, shortness of breath, diarrhea, vomiting and nausea which are usually “flu-like”.
The disease comes from the corona virus and the first case was recorded in Saudi Arabia on April 2012.
The virus can be transferred through close contact via healthworkers who assist in the treatment and the closest relatives dealing closely with them.
Recommendations to prevent the virus from spreading include hygiene and strengthening of immune system.
There is no exact cure yet to MERSCoV so it is important to consult a doctor if someone had a close contact with a MERSCoV patient so that the symptoms can be given correct medications.