MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) acknowledged that the 3-week island quarantine it is imposing on 133 peacekeepers who returned from Liberia was over and above international standards for stopping the spread of Ebola.
The agency chose to take “additional precaution,” however, to play it safe.
All the 133 who served the United Nations Mission in Liberia underwent quarantine in the Ebola-affected country and tested negative in mandatory screens conducted by the UN medical staff.
“It’s not the international standard [to do additional quarantine], but we’d rather play it on the safe side. We’re highly migratory. The UN peacekeepers showed that they and their families can make sacrifices for everybody’s sake,” Health Undersecretary Janette Garin told Rappler on Wednesday, November 12.
Western African countries Liberia, Sierra Leonne, and Guinea are suffering from an Ebola outbreak that killed almost 5,000 people, based on World Health Organization (WHO) statistics.
The Philippine government decided in August to pull out troops from Liberia in because of the health risk posed by the Ebola outbreak.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, WHO Philippines explained that quarantine is not recommended for all travelers coming from Ebola-affected countries.
“People are not infectious until they develop symptoms: people who are not symptomatic (sick) are not infectious and do not need to be confined or their personal possessions disinfected. Ebola symptoms include but are not exclusively the following: fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, headaches, body pain, bleeding and unexplained bruising,” the Facebook post reads.
None of the troops have showed symptoms.
But Garin said they also want the peacekeepers to serve as models for the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) coming home from the Ebola-hit countries.
“We are actually appealing to all those coming from these countries. It is a strong recommendation. If they can please submit themselves to quarantine,” Garin said.
There are about 10 million Filipinos working abroad. Garin said OFWs should approach personnel of the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) at the airports. – Rappler.com