NAIA beefs up quarantine measure amid Novel Coronavirus scare

Marje Pelayo
Philippines MERS virus measures at the airport epa04169811 A Filipino medical officer observes Passengers from United Arab Emirates pass through a thermal scanner at the medical quarantine area upon arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, south of Manila, the Philippines, 17 April 2014. The Department of Health (DOH) of the Philippines is now on intensive search for passengers of an Etihad flight that arrived in Manila on 15 April 2014, who may have had possible contact with the Filipino male nurse tested positive for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus. The World Health Organization said on 14 April 2014 that the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases of the MERS coronavirus since September 2012 stood at 228, including 92 deaths. Most cases have been reported in Saudi Arabia, but there have also been cases in Europe and North Africa. EPA/RITCHIE B. TONGO

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Quarantine has heightened measures at ports across the country due to reports of suspected Novel Coronavirus from China.

Additional thermal scanners were installed at terminals of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Quarantine staff were ordered to wear mask at all times as they are the first to interact with arriving passengers.

The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday (January 21) said they have been observing the conditions of a 5-year-old Chinese boy who showed flu-like symptoms suspected to be the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.

The boy travelled to the Philippines from Wuhan, China to study English.

He arrived at 3:00p.m. of January 12 but was hospitalized on the same day at 6:00p.m.

Blood samples from the boy were immediately tested at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) and was confirmed negative for Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-COV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

However, he was tested positive for a certain strain of coronavirus. His samples were immediately forwarded to a laboratory in Australia for further tests.

The boy will remain as person under investigation until the DOH receives the result from Australia.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Quarantine has already launched contact tracing of all passengers in the same flight as the Chinese boy.

The agency reminds airlines to be ready with the necessary reports should the authorities require them.

“We are reminding the airlines that the universal protective kits should be available on board, the passenger locator card, the protocol on handling cases on board and of course reporting of cases on board to the ground crew,” stressed Dr. Ferdinand Salcedo, Director of the Bureau of Quarantine.

The DOH, meanwhile, is expecting the result from the Australian laboratory tomorrow Thursday (January 23). MNP (with inputs from Aiko Miguel)

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