MERS alert: 11 things OFWs should do

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) on Wednesday, April 23, told overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to take precautionary measures as the country remains on alert over the possible spread of the MERS Coronavirus

"While there is no travel restriction or deployment ban to Middle East countries relative to the MERS-CoV, we deem it proper and timely to issue an advisory on precautionary measures so that our OFWs can be guided on the proper steps they need to take to protect themselves," Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz said in a statement Wednesday.

POEA is an attached agency of the Department of Labor and Employment.

The MERS or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus is a highly fatal, influenza-like illness characterized by fever, cough, and often with diarrhea.

The Philippines is still MERS-free for now as the first laboratory-confirmed case of the infection – a male OFW from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – already tested negative of the virus. 

The Department of Health (DOH) also contacted those he had immediate contact with, including his co-passengers on Etihad Airways flight EY 0424 from Abu Dhabi on April 15

Be alert

In light of recent events on MERS, POEA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac reminded OFWs – whether newly-hired, returning, or on-site – to take note of the following:

Bureau of Quarantine:
Tel. No. (632) 320-9101
(632) 320-9107

The Operation Center-Health Emergency Management Staff
Tel. Nos. +63 922-884-1564
+63 920-949-8419
+63 915-772-5621

National Epidemiology Center
Department of Health
Tel. No. (632) 743-1937

POEA also advised recruitment agencies to hold special briefings on MERS precautionary measures for recruited workers, and to report to the health department once they know of any case of the virus among their deployed workers abroad.

The World Health Organization reported Wednesday a total of 253 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS Coronavirus infection since September 2012, with 93 deaths worldwide.

A 41-year-old Filipina nurse died of MERS on August 29, 2013, while another OFW reportedly died of the virus last April 10.


Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.