MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Department of Health (DOH) announced Thursday, October 16, that the Philippines will not yet send health workers to West African countries badly hit by the deadly Ebola virus.
"As of the moment, we’re not taking on the calls [to send health workers] because what we would want to concentrate is on the preparedness of the Philippines to the threat of Ebola to the country itself," Health Spokesperson Lyndon Lee Suy said in a press briefing Thursday.
He said that while the government is still evaluating how feasible it is to send health workers, there are other ways the country can help
"Providing assistance is not only through personnel, but also in kind," Lee Suy added.
The Philippine College of Physicians on Wednesday, October 15, urged the government and other stakeholders to first strengthen the Philippines’ defense against Ebola before providing "human resources” as response to global calls. (READ: Ona: Philippines ready for Ebola)
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The group said the government needs to protect the country first since the Philippines is preparing to raise alert level 3 – voluntary repatriation – over Ebola-affected countries in West Africa “effective mid-November 2014.” (READ: PH preps for return of Filipinos from Ebola-hit nations)
About 110 Filipino United Nations peacekeepers from Liberia will also come home on November 10 and will be quarantined for 21 days following health protocols. (READ: RITM on top of preparations for possible Ebola cases)
The health department has already identified one referral center for every region in the country, while the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) was designated as the National Referral Center for Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases.
The Ebola virus, which can be transmitted through bodily fluids, causes severe fever, muscle pain, weakness, vomiting, and diarrhea. In some cases, it also causes organ failure and unstoppable bleeding. It can kill victims in just days.
The latest death toll is already at 4,447, from the 8,914 recorded cases of infection.
A World Health Organization (WHO) official on Tuesday, October 14, said the Ebola infection rate could soon reach 10,000 cases a week by the first week of December. (READ: UN working on Ebola safety as PH mulls deployment)
While the worst-hit countries remain to be Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, 4 other countries have reported a case or cases imported from a country with widespread and intense transmission: Nigeria, Senegal, Spain, and the United States. – Rappler.com
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.