DOH: Strict MERS-CoV screening in place for hajj pilgrims
Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - September 26, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Amid the threats posed by the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), the Department of Health (DOH) assured the public that strict screening procedures are in place at the country’s airports for those returning from hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca.

DOH spokesman Lyndon Lee Suy yesterday said the pilgrims, just like any other incoming traveler, will have to go through thermal scanners at the airport to determine if they have fever, one of the symptoms of MERS-CoV.

“I hope they will cooperate, especially by filling out the health checklist truthfully and completely,” he said.

The health cards contain a list of questions pertaining to a person’s history of travel to a country reporting infectious diseases like MERS-CoV; visits to health facilities while abroad and symptoms that they are experiencing, if any.

Travelers are strongly advised to indicate their correct contact information so that the DOH can reach them in case a co-passenger happens to be infected.

This year’s hajj, a religious duty that Muslims must carry out at least once in their lifetime, ran from Sept. 21 to 26. It was marred by a stampede that left more than 700 pilgrims dead and  close to 900 others injured.

The World Health Organization (WHO) described the MERS-CoV as a “viral respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus that was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012.”

The WHO said on its website that MERS symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Pneumonia is common, but not always present, while gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea, have also been reported.

Approximately 36 percent of patients reported to have MERS have died.       

“Although the majority of human cases of MERS have been attributed to human-to-human infections, camels are likely to be a major reservoir host for MERS-CoV and an animal source of MERS infection in humans,” the WHO said.

ACIRC COV DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH HEALTH LYNDON LEE SUY MERS MIDDLE EAST RESPIRATORY SYNDROME-CORONAVIRUS NBSP SAUDI ARABIA SYMPTOMS WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
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