MANILA (Mabuhay) – Philippine foreign officials in the Middle East, Africa and other neighboring countries met on Thursday to discuss the government’s response to the threats posed by the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus and other viruses.
In a statement on Saturday, the Department of Foreign Affairs said the special meeting, which was ordered by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, was held on the sidelines of the agency’s regional workshop on curbing trafficking in persons helo in Ankara, Turkey.
It added that the officials were briefed on the MERS-CoV and other viruses and how these affect the Filipinos there. They have also reviewed individual and regional contingency plans in the event of a pandemic, the statement said.
“The DFA’s goal is two-fold: To safeguard the health and safety of our countrymen who are in the affected countries and to ensure that these communicable and fatal viruses do not spread,” Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Jesus I. Yabes said.
Among the critical points raised during the meeting are:
securing access to health treatment for overseas Filipino nationals;
enforcement of adequate protective measures for members of the Philippine Foreign Service and other government personnel at Posts;
strategies to contain the spread of such illnesses; and
efficient coordination with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other relevant agencies of the Philippine and host governments.
It added that while there are reports of some Filipino medical workers tested positive for MERS-CoV in the United Arab Emirates, the DFA said it will not prevent OFWs from returning to the Philippines.
“Instead, the DFA reiterates its advice to all those traveling to the Philippines, who are originating from or transiting in high-risk areas and who were identified to have been in close contact with somebody suspected to be infected with MERS-CoV, to undergo testing and wait for negative test results before pushing through with their travel plans,” the statement said.
“They should also practice self-quarantine if warranted, be aware of the symptoms, maintain proper hygiene and adopt other preventive measures,” it added.
Meanwhile, it said there are no travel restrictions imposed for any country where the virus has been reported. (MNS)