MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) appealed on Monday to tourists and other travelers to the Philippines to fill up truthfully and completely the health declaration checklist presented to them upon their arrival at the country’s airports.
The DOH made the call as a precautionary measure in view of the current existence of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (MERS-CoV) cases in South Korea.
According to Dr. Vito Roque Jr., officer-in-charge of the DOH Epidemiology Bureau, the proper filling up of the yellow paper containing specific questions can lead to easier identification of the place of origin of a person traveling to the Philippines.
Dr. Roque said such truthful information can help in immediately tracing and providing the necessary health assistance for any arriving passenger who might have any health problem like MERS-CoV or symptoms similar to it.
“If they will not divulge the truth, how can we help them if ever they need it?,” Roque said, adding that giving true information is needed based on the previous experiences of the country in terms of addressing infectious diseases like MERS-CoV and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
Through that form also, the DOH can give the necessary advice to arriving passengers to consult a physician in case that they are suspecting themselves to be infected with MERS-CoV so that they can get the proper check-up and medication when needed.
Dr. Roque added that it is important that the travelers also observe themselves for signs and symptoms as they give the correct information regarding their conditions.
Among the signs and symptoms that can be experienced by a possible MERS-CoV patient are difficulty of breathing, flu-like symptoms, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and others.
It is important to conduct a test of the person’s specimens such as nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swabs to verify if such signs and symptoms are due to MERS-CoV.
The test is evaluated by the DOH laboratory examination through the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Alabang, Muntinlupa City.
Meanwhile, during the same press briefing, Dr. Vitug said that just recently, a traveller experiencing the same signs and symptoms and suspecting himself to have MERS-CoV had come forward to the DOH to be tested.
He declined to disclose the identity of the person even as he said the test revealed negative.
He said that such should be the ideal attitude of a traveller so that MERS-CoV or any other infectious diseases can be prevented in the country.
He also expressed confidence that travelling Filipinos in South Korea will follow the health precautions and protocols such as maintaining proper hygiene and distancing themselves from any possible MERS-CoV patient.
Meanwhile, Dr. Roque clarified that there is no travel restrictions being imposed in the country.