THE Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Friday confirmed that three Filipinos in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) have been infected with the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).
Citing reports from the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, Charles Jose, Foreign Affairs spokesman, said the three Filipinos worked as healthcare personnel in various hospitals in the oil-rich kingdom, and they contracted the virus from MERS patients.
“Our embassy in Riyadh and our consulate general in Jeddah will continue to monitor the new Filipino MERS cases as we encourage our nationals in Saudi Arabia to take precaution,” the official added.
“Filipinos who work in the healthcare sector are advised to follow the infection prevention protocol of hospitals and to seek medical attention should they experience any symptoms of the disease,” Jose said.
Of the three cases, the first one is a female nurse, 56, assigned at the Emergency Room. She is now in isolation at hospital staff housing.
The second case is a female respiratory technician, who is undergoing medical tests.
The third one is also a female nurse assigned at the oncology section and is confined at the hospital.
Although the DFA already has the names of the Filipinos, Jose said, their identities cannot be disclosed yet because they have to inform first their families.
The Filipinos cannot accept visitors because they have to be isolated, he added.
According to Jose, the names of the hospitals also cannot be revealed because of Saudi Arabia’s protocols.
The Filipinos’ employers will shoulder their medical expenses.
There is no current health clearance requirements being imposed on Filipino workers coming home from the Middle East but the Philippine government is urging them to undergo medical check-up before they come home.
This is to make sure that they do not have any of the symptoms, Jose said.
Last month, the Department of Health confirmed that a 32-year-old female nurse from Saudi Arabia tested positive of MERS-CoV days after she arrived home.
She was later confined at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Muntinlupa City (Metro Manila).
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause a range of illnesses in humans, ranging from the common colds to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.