DOH: Etihad Airways passengers should still be tested for MERS-COV

Posted at 04/19/14 2:16 PM

MANILA - More than 200 passengers who flew with the Filipino nurse from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), then a suspected carrier of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (MERS-CoV), are still being urged to undergo medical tests by the Department of Health (DOH).

Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy, DOH Program Manager on Emerging Infectious Diseases, said that while the index case of the Philippines has yielded negative results post-flight, they do not know whether the Filipino nurse may have spread the virus on board the 8-hour Etihad Airways flight EY0424 from Abu Dhabi to Manila last Tuesday

"Negative siya nu'ng ineksamin dito. Nu'ng pagdating niya, maaaring naroon na 'yung time na na-resolve na 'yung problem niya. But we do not have any data or information while [he was] on board," Suy explained in an interview on the ABS-CBN News Channel on Saturday.

"Kasi baka naman on-board, nag-uumpisa pa lang siya gumaling o pawala pa lang ang virus, meaning baka nakapanghawa pa," he added.

Suy said that while MERS-CoV can be contracted only through exposure to respiratory secretions, like phlegm, the DOH does not know whether the overseas Filipino worker (OFW) had close contact with other passengers enough to spread the virus.

He also said that this OFW, who was exposed to a Filipino who died of MERS-CoV in the UAE, may have overcome the virus because of a healthy immune system.

However, Suy said that just to be sure, the more than 400 passengers of Etihad Airways EY 0424 who have yet to undergo tests for MERS-CoV, should still do so to prevent the possible spread of the virus.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona said on Saturday that out of the 415 passengers of flight EY 0424, 119 have been contacted.

"Of those contacted, 72 have been tested; 40 of those tested yielded negative results," Ona added.