MANILA, April 19 (Xinhua) -- Philippine President Benigno Aquino III has directed the Department of Health (DOH) to try hard to create a heightened awareness among the public on the deadly Middle East Respirator Syndrome-Corona Virus (MERS-CoV), Health Secretary Enrique Ona said on Saturday.
Ona said the DOH is working closely with all concerned government agencies to ensure public health and safety even if there has not bee an epidemic or outbreak of the MERS-CoV.
"Upon the President's instructions, the Department of Health has mobilized Task Force MERS or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome- Corona Virus to create a heightened awareness among our people and prevent the spread of this communicable disease," he said.
Ona said that as a precaution, he approved the issuance of Bureau of Quarantine alert bulletins to those travelling from the Middle East and through the international airports.
Of the more than 400 passengers of the Etihad Airlines flight EY 0424 heading for the Philippines on April 15, a male Filipino nurse tested positive for the MERS-CoV when he was still in the United Arab Emirates.
However, Ona said on Saturday that the "Index Passenger" tested negative for the virus based on the findings of the examination conducted by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).
He added that all the passengers who travelled with the "Index Passenger" were still considered at risk and the Task Force MERS- CoV continues to trace and test them. He also urged the unexamined passengers of the Etihad flight to submit themselves to testing.
The DOH also calls the attention of Filipinos who have returned recently from the Middle East to report to the nearest hospital if they experience flu-like symptoms, such as fever, cough, cold, and sneezing.