Strict Screening Sought for Travellers from S. Korea

MANILA – Philippine authorities recommend the strict screening of travellers coming into the country from South Korea amid the outbreak of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus.

Philippine Ambassador to South Korea Raul Hernandez said South Korea residents have been told to comply with protocols to help prevent the spread of the disease.

As an added precaution, they have indefinitely postponed Filipino Independence Day celebrations scheduled in Incheon on Sunday.

“We are recommending that strict screening of visitors from Korea should be imposed, including getting the necessary information as to where they are going and how long will they stay, and their contact details,” Hernandez said in an interview on ANC’s “Dateline Philippines.”

“Filipinos working here continue to go to their employment, their companies, but they are taking preventive measures… The WHO (World Health Organization) and also the Korean government have not issued any travel advisory, but what is important is they have to take very serious preventive measures,” he added.

Hernandez said South Korea’s Ministry of Health and Welfare opened a toll-free MERS hotline to address queries on the virus.

He added health officials hope to contain the outbreak in South Korea by the end of the month.

Meanwhile, a Filipino masteral student in South Korea also voiced concern over the supply of face masks running out.

“We were trying to buy some face masks but every pharmacy, every grocery, department store, all of them are sold out. We even tried to get them online, but we have to wait for four to five days before thay can actually tell you whether you can buy it or not. So the situation is a little bit alarming,” said Stephanie Ongkiko.

Authorities in South Korea have temporarily closed two hospitals amid persistent fears over the MERS outbreak.

The MERS virus has already claimed 14 lives in South Korea. Twelve new infections were reported on Saturday.

Nearly 140 people in South Korea have been diagnosed with MERS since the country reported its first case last month.

About 3,000 have reportedly been placed under quarantine in homes or government facilities. — ANC


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