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Manila: The Philippines has put its infectious disease response unit on alert following a confirmed case of the highly communicable Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (Mers), officials said on Monday.
According to Secretary Janette Guarin, the Department of Health has activated Task Force Mers-CoV after a visitor from a Middle East country was taken to hospital recently while showing symptoms of the disease.
At 11.30am last Saturday, the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in southern Metro Manila received a referral about a foreigner who came from the Middle East who was showing symptoms of Mers. Tests proved the patient positive for the disease and the individual was transferred to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) where his condition is being closely watched, Guarin said.
The health secretary did not name the patient and reports only went as far as describing the carrier as a 36-year-old male.
The patient is stable and very cooperative. The viral load is showing signs of diminishing which means that the Mers coronavirus present in his body is not that much and there is a strong possibility that he would recover, Guarin said.
She said the patient has been quarantined.
The foreigner, who was said to have arrived recently in the country from a Gulf country, would be the second Mers case in the Philippines after a Filipina nurse who worked in Saudi Arabia tested positive for the infection in February.
The nurse recovered from the infection.
Guarin said Task Force Mers-CoV has started tracing the people who had contact with the foreigner in the Philippines.
She added that these people would be monitored daily by the Regional Epidemiology Service Unit until they are cleared of a possible Mers infection.
At the same time, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said it does not recommend the imposition of any travel, trade, or screening restrictions related to Mers. However, it is advised that travellers, whether tourists or migrant workers, should maintain a high level of vigilance, especially those coming from Mers infected countries.
The DOH called on Filipinos who have returned recently from the Middle East to report to the nearest hospital if they experience symptoms of the Mers which are similar to the indications of flu, including fever with cough, cold, or sneezing.
The Bureau of Quarantine is also closely monitoring all points of entry in the Philippines to ensure the surveillance of all incoming travellers from abroad.
There is no reason to panic and we appeal to the public to respect the privacy of the patient, Garin concluded.
The WHO said a total 1,365 confirmed cases have been reported worldwide, the latest of which were from South Korea and China.