Virus ‘carriers’ up at 25: DOH

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014


THE Department of Health (DOH) Central Visayas revealed that suspected cases of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (MERS-CoV) in the region has risen from 22 to 25, 21 of which are from Cebu.

Health officials revealed that aside from looking for all possible MERS-CoV carriers in the region, they have to contend with looking for patients who refused to have themselves tested and quarantined.

Because of this, DOH 7 officials are coordinating with the Philippine National Police (PNP) to not only search for possible MERS-CoV carriers, but also arrest them if they refuse to be tested.

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As of yesterday, the DOH 7 monitored 21 suspected MERS-CoV patients from Cebu, two in Bohol and two from Negros Oriental.

In Cebu, about 11 suspected MERS-CoV patients have been admitted at the Vicente Sotto
Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC). Eight of the 11 patients were part of the original manifest of Etihad Airlines flight EY0424.

Confined

The 11 patients are currently being housed in special negative pressure and isolation rooms and are being monitored by two teams composed of 16 medical and non-medical personnel.

Dr. Gerardo Aquino, VSMMC hospital chief, said they expect to discharge some of their patients as the results of the confirmatory tests will arrive in Cebu today.

But contrary to their earlier statements, Aquino said three out of four patients that were supposed to admit themselves at VSMMC yesterday didn’t show up.

Renan Cimafranca of the DOH 7’s Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (Resu) said that while the samples were already collected from the three patients, they need them to be quarantined as there is still no assurance that they are negative of MERS-CoV contamination.

Cimafranca said that they are now coordinating with local police in tracking down the
three passengers.

He said the need to quarantine suspected MERS-CoV patients is to ensure that if they test positive of the virus, they are immediately contained and treated.

Privacy

While the DOH Central Visayas has released the names of suspected MERS-CoV patients who have not yet tested for the virus, Cimafranca said that they are also considering the privacy of those being suspected to have the virus.

But Dr. Expedito Medalla, DOH 7 Health Emergency Management Services (HEMS) coordinator, said that police must observe maximum tolerance in dealing with their patients.

“The PNP cannot just conduct the arrest without coordinating with us. If ever the arrest would be conducted, at least we will be there to supervise them. But I am confident that the police will be diplomatic about it,” Medalla said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 24, 2014.

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