No epidemic or outbreak of Mers virus in Philippines, says official

Saudi medical staff leaving the emergency department at a hospital in the center of the Saudi capital Riyadh on April 8, 2014. The Health Ministry reported four more MERS cases in Jeddah, two of them among health workers, prompting authorities to clo
Saudi medical staff leaving the emergency department at a hospital in the center of the Saudi capital Riyadh on April 8, 2014. The Health Ministry reported four more MERS cases in Jeddah, two of them among health workers, prompting authorities to close the emergency department at the city's King Fahd Hospital. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

MANILA: There is no epidemic or outbreak of the deadly Mers coronavirus in the Philippines, health officials said on Saturday.

"At the outset, let me point this out: There is still no epidemic or outbreak of the Mers coronavirus in the Middle East or the Arabian Peninsula. There is no epidemic in the Philippines," Health Secretary Renato Ona said at a news conference.

Dr Ona announced that the Filipino nurse from Abu Dhabi who was earlier tagged in the United Arab Emirates as a Mers-coronavirus carrier has tested negative.

"This suggests his body was able to overcome the virus. He was not sick at all. He was just contaminated or he got infected," Dr Lyndon Lee Suy, the health department's programme manager on infectious diseases, told reporters.

"We conducted a second test, and we didn't find any trace of the virus or infectious microbe," he said.

The nurse, who was on board an Etihad flight that arrived in Manila on April 15, has been discharged, along with four members of his family who fetched him at the airport. They had all been quarantined.

Dr Ona said there were 45 foreigners on the flight, and all of them had been contacted so they could be tested.

An official from the Department of Foreign Affairs told The Straits Times there was no Singaporean on board the flight.

Dr Ona said of the 415 passengers on the flight, 72 had been tested, and 40 tested negative. The 32 others were still being processed, while the rest had yet to submit themselves for testing.

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