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3 Pinoys infected with MERS-CoV in Saudi Arabia, says DFA


(Updated 1:05 p.m.) The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Friday confirmed that three Filipino female healthcare workers in Saudi Arabia have been infected with the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus or MERS-CoV.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said the three work in various hospitals in Saudi and have been exposed to MERS-COV patients in the course of their work.

“They have been diagnosed just recently. It was discovered in the early stage. They are in isolation right now,” Jose told a press briefing.  

Since 2013, a total of 10 Filipinos—eight from Saudi and two from the United Arab Emirates—have died from contracting the virus, which is prevalent in the Middle East region.

Jose said the DFA will not release the identities of the Filipinos without permission from their families, but said two of them are nurses and one is a technician.

The first one, he said, is a 56-year-old female nurse assigned at the emergency room. She is under isolation in the hospital’s staff housing.

Jose said the second Filipino is a respiratory technician, currently confined and undergoing medical tests, while the third one, a female nurse assigned at the Oncology section, was likewise placed under quarantine.

“We will get in touch with their next of kin to inform them of any development,” Jose said, adding visitation is prohibited at this point.

The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh and its consulate general in Jeddah will continue to monitor the condition of new Filipino MERS cases, Jose said.

“Healthcare sector workers are advised to follow the infection prevention protocol in their hospital and to seek medical attention in case they experience any of the disease’s symptoms,” Jose said.

According to the World Health Organization, symptoms of MERS-COV include fever, cough, shortness of breath and even diarrhea.

Hundreds of Filipino health workers are scattered in hospitals across the Middle East, making them vulnerable to acquiring the virus.

The Philippines is not imposing any travel restrictions to and from the Arabian Peninsula, but has called on Filipinos in the Middle East to exercise vigilance and practice health precautions for their own protection. —KBK, GMA News
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