ONE of the 108 Filipino peacekeepers quarantined in Caballo Island in Cavite after returning form Liberia has developed a fever, raising possibility that he might be infected with Ebola.
The soldier, whose name was not released by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), was transferred Friday afternoon to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), the frontline facility of the Department of Health (DOH) for infectious diseases.
AFP Public Affairs Office chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, allayed fears that the deadly outbreak has reached Philippine soil, and said there is no cause for alarm.
“We will follow the advice of DOH officials regarding our peacekeeper who has a fever,” Cabunoc said.
Radio reports quoting DOH officials said the soldier’s fever had subsided but he was still feeling weak.
The rest of the peacekeepers in Caballo, Cabunoc said, were all in good health and showed no symptoms of any illness.
“Routine activities like videoke, ball games, skype webcam communication with loved ones are ongoing,” he said.
Health Acting Secretary Janette Garin said the peacekeeper was discovered to have fever Thursday night, a day after the contingent arrived from Liberia.
Garin said the soldier was previously afflicted with malaria.
The most common symptoms of Ebola include fever, sore throat, dry cough, weakness, severe headache, joint and muscle aches, diarrhea, dehydration, stomach pain and vomiting.
Ebola has killed more than 5,000 people in West Africa.
The peacekeepers were taken to Caballo for a 21-day quarantine.
Navy Capt. Luzviminda Camacho, commander of Task Force Liberia, said the soldiers were examined and tested before they left Liberia and all were found negative of the Ebola virus.
The peacekeeping contingent from Liberia is composed of 108 members from the Philippine Air Force, 24 members of the Philippine National Police, and one Bureau of Jail Management and Penology personnel.
Garin said that the peacekeeper was initially placed in an isolation room in Caballo before he was transferred to RITM.
Palace spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the DOH has enough protective suits for workers who will treat Ebola cases to last for three months.
“So whether we will need some additional, that will depend on the assessment of the DOH and the RITM,” Lacierda told reporters.
Lacierda said the personal protective equipment being used by DOH personnel for training is different from those that will be used if an Ebola case is confirmed.
Alliance of Health Workers president Joseel Ebesate is questioning the effectivity of the protective gear, saying it could be penetrated by liquids.
With MARIS LALOG and CATHERINE S. VALENTE