Measures in place to detect MERS-Cov

By: Michelle Joy L. Padayhag, Vanessa Claire Lucero June 14,2015 - 10:48 AM

Immigration personnel at the Mactan-Cebu international Airport wear protective masks as they deal with arriving international travelers.

Immigration personnel at the Mactan-Cebu international Airport wear protective masks as they deal with arriving international travelers.

Health authorities and airport officials  said they have  measures in place to monitor and prevent the entry of travelers suspected to have the Middle East Respiratory-Cov (MERS-Cov) in the country.

At the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA),  thermo-imaging cameras are used to check for elevated temperatures among incoming international passengers.

Passengers are screened twice, once at the boarding bridge as people get off the plane, and again, when they go through the health counters.

Passengers  from international flights are required to fill up health cards of the Department of Health (DOH) upon arrival.

The cards ask whether the passenger has been recently hospitalized  or experienced any illness,  and captures data that can be used later for contact tracing if needed.

Andrew Harrison, chief executive adviser of the GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corp. (GMCAC),  said so far they have not  observed any decrease in flights to South Korea where an outbreak of MERS-Cov virus was reported.

He said there are as many as seven flights a day  between Cebu and South Korea four days a week.

South Koreans account for the biggest tourist group visiting Cebu and  the largest share of international traffic in the Mactan airport or 60 percent.

The GMCAC official said the Bureau of Quarantine has a “fast response team” that can transport persons suspected of being infected with MERS-Cov to the Vicente Memorial Medical Center within an hour.

“All of these back-up processes are ready should someone arrive who may be at risk,” Harrison said.

He referred to a  World Health Organization statement that the virus is containable and is not a pandemic at this time.

He said South Korea has been dealing with the health emergency well so far based on news reports.

Meanwhile the DOH  Regional Epidemiological Surveillance Unit (RESU-7) will conduct free orientations on MERS-Cov to English Second Language (ESL) schools in Cebu City.  Koreans are the biggest group of students for these schools.

“We are also encouraging other ESL schools and even companies who want a briefing to send a request to our office,” said chief Reynan Cimafranca said.

Countries affected with MERS-Cov are usually from the Middle East but there is a rising number of cases in South Korea.

So far, the WHO has not issued any travel health warning or travel ban for any country regarding the virus.
No cases have been reported so far in the Visayas.

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TAGS: Bureau of Quarantine, Cebuanos, Department of Health, GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corp., measures, South Korea, virus

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