Although the country’s health agency has assured that the Philippines is still free from Ebola virus, a contagious viral disease which is currently causing outbreak in Africa, its officials still reminded the public to gear up against the spread of the virus.
In an advisory on its blog site, the Department of Health (DOH) advised Filipinos to practice the following:
- Avoid contact with sick people and animals like bats and monkeys;
- Avoid eating raw meat from the said animals;
- Use gloves and masks when taking care of sick members of the family; and
- Frequent and proper hand washing after attending to the sick either in the hospital or at home.
DOH explained that Ebola virus disease infects both humans and primates like monkeys, gorillas and chimpanzees, with a current death rate of 90-percent. The virus can be transmitted through close contact with body fluids like blood and saliva from infected organisms.
Within the two to 21-day incubation period, the disease could cause:
- Fever, headache, intense weakness, muscle pain, sore throat;
- Followed by vomiting, diarrhea, stomach ache, rashes, liver and kidney malfunction; and
- Internal and external bleeding.
The World Health Organization (WHO) as of August 4 has recorded 1,603 cases and 887 deaths in African countries, including Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, according to an online report.
In a briefing on August 5, Health secretary Enrique Ona added that observing a healthy lifestyle – eating healthful food, avoiding getting overworked or exposed to extreme temperatures, and getting enough rest – would also help prevent Ebola, and even any disease.
“But just to assure our people, we are ready and at the same time there is no need to worry because the national government, our offices are taking all the necessary measures so that the virus will not reach our country,” Ona added.
The same advisory enumerated the actions taken by DOH to prevent the entry of the virus in the country, including the following:
- Strict monitoring on all incoming passengers from outside the country on all entry points, including airports and seaports.
Another online article quoted Dr. Federico Castillo saying the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ), a DOH-attached agency, has deployed doctors and nurses, and thermal digital scanners to look after incoming passengers at all terminals of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
- Ensuring all passengers from other countries would provide their health information checklists.
The doctors would check on passengers who might exhibit fever- and cough-like symptoms, while other health staff would give them health alert and check lists to be filled out for future references.
The health information checklist would ask a passenger about his personal data, travel history and previous contact with infected persons or health workers, among others.
However, Castillo said the virus is unlikely to reach the country as passengers from countries with cases of Ebola virus disease would have to take three connecting flights before arriving in Manila. “The virus dies due to the long trip, but to make sure we will monitor them,” he added.
- Readiness of hospitals to accommodate patients with suspected or confirmed cases.
During the same press conference, Socorro Lupisan, director of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), was quoted in an online report saying the hospital could deal with handling Ebola cases through its “negative pressure rooms”.
A video presentation she presented said that the negative pressure rooms would serve as isolation rooms for suspected Ebola-infected patients “which prevent the spread of infectious agents from suspected cases.” She added RITM can accommodate up to nine patients, but it can provide other isolation rooms if necessary.
- Training of healthcare workers on handling Ebola-related cases and avoiding being infected.
Lupisan also said once a patient has been proven Ebola-positive, he would have to be quarantined in RITM and submit himself to medical test, with the result out in two days.
Lupisa added that “the treatment for now is “very supportive” since there is no cure for Ebola virus disease. The treatment includes hydration, transfusion, and other supportive care.”
- Close coordination with other concerned government agencies.
Aside from DOH, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) are working to prevent the entry of Ebola virus in the country.
An online story said about 880 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Guinea, more than 600 Filipinos – including those working for the United Nations peacekeeping force – in Liberia, and about 2,000 in Sierra Leone had been alerted on the deadly illness by DFA.
For its part, POEA would hold a meeting with recruitment agencies that send Filipinos to Ebola-affected countries to talk about possible measures to protect them from acquiring the virus.
Also, POEA and DOLE halted deployment of newly hired OFWs to Ebola-affected countries after DFA raised the crisis alert level to Level 2.
Image from DOH website. Some rights reserved.