An official from the Department of Health (DOH) admitted that the agency was having difficulty establishing contact with the remaining fellow plane passengers of a male Filipino nurse was suspected to have carried the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).
“There are some on the list with contact details but when we called them we got a wrong number,” according to Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy of DOH-National Center for Disease Prevention and Control (NCDPC).
Reports said that only four of the 415 passengers of Etihad Airlines flight EY 0424çwhich arrived in Manila from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE) last April 15—have not yet reached out to the Task Force MERS-CoV, an inter-agency task force created by President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
“We have leads to where they are and how to contact them,” he added.
Lee Suy also told a previous briefing that the task force has sought the help of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to verify and locate the addresses of the passengers who have not yet submitted themselves to testing.
One of the 415 passengers was the Filipino nurse who was found positive of the virus in the UAE after contact with a fellow Filipino who died of the illness on April 10. However, he tested negative twice upon his arrival in the country on April 15.
Out of the 415 passengers, 356 have been contacted by the task force, 315 have undergone medical test, and 275 tested negative of MERS-CoV.
The DOH recommends undergoing nose-and-throat swab tests for anyone with symptoms of MERS-CoV including cough, colds, high fever, shortness of breath and diarrhea. The swab specimens are then analyzed by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).
DOH officials have repeatedly told the public that the country is still free of MERS-CoV.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said in its report that 333 laboratory-confirmed MERS-CoV cases, including 107 deaths, have been reported by local health authorities worldwide from 2012 until April 22 this year, with most coming from countries in the Arabian Peninsula. However, data from the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that only 253 MERS-CoV cases and 93 deaths have been recorded as of April 23.