Pinoy in Riyadh has MERS-CoV; Malacañang Says PH Still Virus-Free

by Roy Mabasa
June 16, 2015

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed yesterday that a Filipino in Saudi Arabia has contracted the dreaded Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) which he got from his wife who works in a hospital in Riyadh.

Citing reports from the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, DFA Spokesperson Charles Jose said the wife of the Filipino who got infected with MERS-CoV was confined in the hospital.

“After she got well, she returned home. Then after a few days the husband got infected,” Jose said in a press briefing.”The husband is now confined in a hospital and he is getting the proper treatment,” he added.



Meanwhile, Malacañang yesterday assured that the Philippines remains free from the Middle MERS-CoV, amid its continuing spread in South Korea.

 Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. also assured that the government has already put in place preventive measures against the disease.

 “The Philippines is fully-prepared to thwart and contain the MERS- CoV and government has put in place all the necessary preventive measures including contact-tracing and other infection control protocols to isolate those exhibiting symptoms of MERS-CoV,” Coloma said.



 In Saudi Arabia, the Philippine embassy earlier warned all Filipinos in the Kingdom to observe health guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health regarding MERS-CoV.

“Filipino workers in the health care sector should strictly follow infection control protocols in their workplaces,” the embassy said.

It added that “despite the considerable decrease in MERS-CoV rate in the Kingdom in recent months, maintaining high vigilance and caution against all types of infectious diseases is necessary.”



The DFA spokesperson said they have yet to receive reports on any Filipino infected with MERS-CoV in South Korea.

He said the Philippine embassy in South Korea is constantly monitoring the situation in that country and continues to keep in touch with the Filipino community there.

“They already issued an advisory to (the Filipino) community reminding them to take precautionary measures to avoid infection,” said Jose.

The Philippines had issued the caution after the government there admitted that the outbreak of the viral respiratory disease was a result of insufficient safety measures during hospitalization of the first patients diagnosed with the sickness.

Thousands of people have since been put in quarantine across South Korea.



According to Coloma, the Philippine government has been preparing against MERS-CoV since the first quarter of 2014 when it was first reported in the Middle East.

 In February last year, a 32-year-old Filipina nurse from Saudi Arabia tested positive for MERS-CoV, the first case of the disease in the country.

 The patient was treated at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Muntinlupa City.

 According to the World Health Organization (WHO), this strain of coronavirus that causes MERS was first identified in 2012 in Saudi Arabia.

 The WHO also said that between June 8 and 12, 2015, there were 62 confirmed cases of MERS-CoV in South Korea, including six deaths. (With a report from Madel Sabater Namit)


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