5 OFWs tested negative for Mers-CoV

THE five female migrant workers from Negros Occidental who were earlier suspected of having Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (Mers-CoV) were found negative of the virus.

Provincial Health Officer Ernell Tumimbang said Tuesday that based on the swab samples taken from the five people, they did not contract viral infection.

The five female workers were passengers of Saudi Arabia plane that was also boarded by the Filipino nurse who was earlier found positive for Mers-CoV.

Tumimbang said the fifth Negrense, who was tested at Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital in Bacolod City Tuesday, also tested negative for Mers-Cov.

The five Negrenses flew from Riyadh to Manila on February 1.

Three of them are from Bacolod while the other two are from Bago City, Negros Occidental.

Tumimbang assured Negrenses the province is “Mers-CoV free.”

‘Only one case’

The Department of Health (DOH) said there is only one confirmed case of Mers-CoV in the Philippines, as the three other persons earlier considered as patients under investigation (PUI) all tested negative after a round of tests.

“So as of this moment, we only have one case, which is closely monitored, our index case – the Filipina nurse who tested positive with Mers-CoV,” said DOH spokesperson Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy in a press briefing Tuesday.

He said the three other suspected cases that the DOH had been closely monitoring were all declared negative based on results of the series of confirmatory laboratory tests conducted on them to further check if the symptoms they were exhibiting earlier were connected with the disease that has killed hundreds in the Middle East.

Lee Suy said that based on the tests, one of the three "patients under investigation" had a pneumonia problem.

“We are addressing right now the pneumonia problem of the said patient. But to make it clear, the case is not Mers-CoV,” he said.

He said the index case of the pregnant nurse who arrived from Saudi Arabia last February 1 and tested positive with Mers-CoV is currently under stable condition and they are seeing no threat on her pregnancy as well.

“We are closely monitoring her. As of now, she is not showing any signs of stress. We have referred her to an obstetrician (doctor specialist in the management of pregnancy, labor and birth) to monitor as well as take care of her pregnancy,” he added.

Lee Suy also said that continuous tests will be conducted on the nurse at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Muntinlupa City until they arrive at a negative result.

“Our indicator will be once the result of the test yields negative. As of now, based on the sputum test conducted, she is still positive with Mers-CoV,” he added.

He cited that the woman will be discharged or allowed to go back to her family once the confirmatory tests yield negative result to ensure both her safety and those of the people who will be around her at home and in the community.

To keep the virus from spreading, Lee Suy advised the public to limit the number of friends and relatives welcoming their loved ones at the airports, especially those coming from countries with Mers-CoV cases.

He said this is due to the lack of adequate screening procedures at the airports.

“The thermal scanner can only determine certain changes in the body temperature... hindi nagsasabi na may Mers-CoV ang tao,” Lee Suy said.

The health official also urged those arriving from the Middle East to closely monitor their health for the next 14 days and be vigilant against possible Mers-CoV symptoms.

“We really encourage them na kung may bago sa pakiramdam after manggaling sa Middle East, magpatingin na agad. At i-volunteer ang information sa doctor regarding travel history,” Lee Suy said. (With reports from PNA/Sunnex)
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