OFWs from 5 Asian countries monitored for Zika symptoms

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) announced on Friday, September 2, stricter screening for travelers arriving from 5 Asian countries, where cases of Zika infection have either been confirmed or are being monitored.

In a press conference, the DOH's Bureau of Quarantine said overseas Filipino workers from Singapore, Malaysia, Hongkong, Indonesia, and Thailand are especially being monitored.

Director Ferchito Avelino said his bureau has released an advisory to OFWs and other travelers on precautions to take in relation to the mosquito-borne virus.

He called on travelers to cooperate when screened by Bureau of Quarantine personnel at the airport to help prevent the spread of Zika in the country. It is important to fill up the health declaration checklist, he said.

The bureau is coordinating with the Department of Foreign Affairs to better advise and monitor OFWs in Zika-affected countries.

Singapore has so far reported 82 cases of Zika, while Malaysia confirmed its first Zika case. 

Health Secretary Paulynn Ubial said that the Philippine embassy in Singapore has not reported any Filipino infected with the virus. There are no reports of infected Filipinos from other countries either, she said.

She said that if a traveler suspected of contracting the Zika virus develops fever, he or she should practice safe sex since the virus stays in the blood for 6 months.

The Zika virus can also be transmitted through blood transfusion, the health chief said.