By Nicole Ann M. Aguila
A virus threat is something to be alarmed about, because it may not only occur in the Middle East, but also spread around the globe. Filipinos might think that we would not become susceptible to this kind of illness. But that is not true, because we are not superhuman. Infection by the said virus is always possible, especially because migration from country to country happens on a regular basis.
These past few weeks, the MERS-CoV-related news doesn’t fail to pop up on the news headlines. This deadly virus, first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012, has already taken 27 lives out of 49 infected individuals.
Last August 29, 2013, a Pinay nurse who suffered from pneumonia, which is one of the severe indications of MERS-CoV, has been confirmed positive for the said virus. A male overseas Filipino worker who only just got back in Manila was also tested positive for the MERS-CoV.
DOH Secretary Enrique Ona believed that the OFW, who is also a nurse, had interaction with the infected person in the UAE. The male health worker was put on confinement.
“He has no symptoms. He has the virus but he is not sick with it. But he still can infect others so we put him in isolation. We can say that he’s a carrier. It means he was exposed to the virus,” Ona said.
The OFW was observed for five days to see if he still has the virus. Secretary Ona also added that there is a probability that he might get sick or can infect others in two weeks.
After repeating the examination by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), the OFW was declared cleared from MERS-CoV virus, according to Ona.
They will also be tracing the seatmates on the plane and other people that the person interacted with so that they would be assessed, observed and quarantined if needed. This is to make sure that these people are not infected and had no symptoms. These are all preventive procedures. Government will also take up the expenditures of those who will get ill with MERS-CoV or get quarantined.
Undersecretary Eric Tayag said on Twitter that the Philippines became the 12th country and the first in Asia with confirmed cases of MERS-CoV. But there were reports that a Malaysian was the first person in Asia to capitulate to the said virus.
“To contain MERS-CoV spread, quarantine those who had contact with known infection and isolate those who became sick after contact with a known case,” Secretary Ona also tweeted.
This deadly virus can easily spread throughout the country and even become the next ‘SARS’ if it is not given sufficient attention. To be protected from it, Filipinos need to be educated about this virus threat. After all, prevention is better than cure.
(Ms. Aguila is currently an intern for OpinYon. She is an incoming fourth year student in AB Communication Arts in Malayan College in Cabuyao, Laguna.)