CAAP alerts airport authorities over Zika virus
MANILA, Philippines – The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has advised airport operators and authorities, as well as the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ), to take precautions against the Zika virus, which has been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO).
A bulletin issued by the International Civil Aviation Organization prompted the CAAP to issue on Wednesday, February 17, a memorandum notifying airport authorities, firms, and medical personnel about the virus.
Zika, which resembles a light case of the flu, is transmitted by mosquito species found in tropical and sub-tropical regions: Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, or tiger mosquitoes.
The disease is strongly suspected of causing birth defects such as microcephaly and other brain deformities in newborns. With the surge in cases of microcephaly, the WHO on February 1 declared the situation a public health emergency of international concern. (READ: Microcephaly: What is happening to babies?)
"The ICAO is collaborating with the WHO to ensure the aviation sector plays a supporting role in minimizing the risk of spreading the disease internationally and of travelers becoming infected, especially women who may be pregnant,” CAAP Director General William Hotchkiss III said in a statement released Wednesday.
CAAP advised firms to disinfect their aircrafts to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes that carry the virus. Personnel from the BOQ should also stay alert for arriving passengers who may possibly be infected with Zika so that they may be immediately quarantined.
The ICAO, meanwhile, reminded international airports to implement programs to control vectors, especially in places where passengers converge and where cargo is stored.
Last week, the United States said enhanced public health entry screening for Zika would not be effective, since most people infected with the virus are asymptomatic, so they could not be identified during the screening process. – Jee Y. Geronimo, with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com