THE national aviation regulator on Wednesday stepped up efforts to stop the Zika virus from spreading in the country.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) advised all airport operators and other authorities to take the necessary health and safety measures against the virus.
Travelers to other countries were urged to take extra precautions against mosquito bites, through which the Zika virus could be spread.
In a memorandum dated February 17, 2016, signed by Director General William Hotchkiss 3rd and based on a bulletin issued by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the CAAP said the Zika virus has been declared a “public health emergency of international concern.”
It sent out notices to concerned airport authorities, airline firms and airport medical officials on a Zika virus alert for them to also take precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.
Zika was declared on February 1 an international health concern by the World Health Organization (WHO), which said the virus has spread to 33 countries and found indirect evidence of local transmission in six other countries.
“The ICAO is collaborating with the WHO to ensure that the aviation sector play a supporting role in minimizing the risk of spreading the disease internationally and of travelers becoming infected, especially women who may be pregnant,” Hotchkiss said.
He added that a basic precaution that may be undertaken by the airlines is disinfection of aircraft to prevent breeding of Zika virus-carrying mosquitoes.
Bureau of Quarantine personnel at the airports have been reminded to stay alert for arriving passengers who may be infected by the Zika virus that makes use of similar transmission routes as dengue fever.
The virus is blamed in South America, in particular, for the birth of children with abnormally small heads and undeveloped brains, a medical condition called microcephaly.