DOH to the families of OFWs: Avoid 'fiesta-like' airport welcome (Philippines News Agency)

The Department of Health (DOH) is discouraging “fiestalike” way of welcoming back returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) at the airport as a preventive approach to limit the number of people that may possibly be exposed to infectious diseases.
According to DOH spokesperson Dr. Lyndon LeeSuy, there is a need to remind the families and friends of OFWs to change their habitual practice of “bringing the entire clan” to the airport so that in case there is a passenger arriving with infectious disease, there will be fewer people involved in contacttracing later.
“I think we should just do away for a while with the big number of family members trooping to the airport as if they are going to a fiesta,” Dr. Lee Suy said.
He explained that the best approach is to limit the number of people meeting an arriving relative at the airport, with the others staying to do the welcoming at home.
The DOH spokesperson noted that it will not do any good if all the relatives of an arriving OFW will be wearing face masks at the airport just to be sure they will be safe from infectious diseases like MERSCoV (Middle East Respiratory SyndromeCorona Virus).
“Wearing face masks, on the other hand, may also cause panic among the public because that may convey the wrong message or confusion that there is an alarming situation,” he said.
It may be recalled that the country’s first MERSCoV scare took place in April 2014, where an entire family had to be quarantined for a period of 14 days after they welcomed a family member, a male nurse, from the United Arab Emirates.
The nurse was initially tested positive for the virus before he returned home. Later on, he was found negative for the virus after confirmatory tests were conducted at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Alabang, Muntinlupa City.
The doctors at the RITM concluded that the patient had probably overcome the virus during his flight back home to the Philippines.
As of this date, there is no available exact cure for MERSCoV.
The DOH spokesperson said that returning OFWs should also be responsible enough to immediately proceed to a hospital or see a doctor at the airport if they notice that something is wrong with their health during the flight.
“If they (OFWs) feel some symptoms like fever higher than 38 degrees, experiencing cough, sneezing, diarrhea they should go directly to a hospital before they go home to avoid the possible exposure of family members or neighbors,” he said.
He also reminded that correct information should be written on the airport health declaration checklist once an OFW returns in the country so that in case there is a need for contacttracing, the task will not be very difficult.
“As we always remind them, we (the government) cannot do the task alone, they (OFWs) or the public should also do their part to help by giving their full cooperation in the control of spread of any infectious disease,” LeeSuy said.
He added that it will also be a good practice if one’s mouth will be covered by tissue or handkerchief when coughing or sneezing, especially if there are people standing or sitting beside them.
The public, on the other hand, can do their part by keeping themselves clean or practicing correct hygiene and maintaining strong immune system as a way to shield themselves from emerging infectious diseases.
Among the ways to strengthen one’s immune system are having adequate sleep, eating nutritious food, drinking plenty of water and doing exercises.
At present, the 32yearold Filipina nurse who arrived from Saudi Arabia last Feb. 1 is the only confirmed case of MERSCoV in the country.
MERSCoV originated in Saudi Arabia in 2012. (PNA)