Filipino nurse from UAE tests negative for Mers

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 April, 2014, 5:37am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 April, 2014, 7:35am


A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the deadly Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers) has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after returning home.

The man returned on Tuesday on an Etihad Airways flight and immediately subjected himself to quarantine along with relatives and others who greeted him on arrival from the United Arab Emirates.

"Fortunately, as well as for the comfort of everybody, the findings of our Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, he tested negative," Health Secretary Enrique Ona said.

The nurse was a co-worker of a Filipino paramedic who died from infection in the UAE on April 10.

Ona said the government had been trying to locate all 415 passengers on the April 15 flight 0424 from Abu Dhabi to Manila for testing for the frequently deadly virus.

He also urged other Filipinos returning from the Middle East with flu-like symptoms to report to the nearest hospital.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad has said health authorities in the Emirates were also contacting the passengers, while crew members were being screened.

Emerging infectious diseases programme manager Dr Lyndon Lee Suy said there was currently no Mers epidemic and the World Health Organisation had not issued any restrictions on travelling to or from the Middle East, where more than 1 million Filipinos work. Lee Suy said 119 passengers had been contacted and 72 tested, with 40 so far showing no infection.

He said all the nurse's relatives and well-wishers who welcomed him home had also tested negative for the virus. The nurse will undergo another test before being discharged.

Ona said the nurse had not shown any flu-like symptoms typical of infection from the virus such as fever, cough and cold.

More than 20 people, many of them health workers, have been reported infected with the Mers coronavirus in two distinct clusters - one in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - likely involving human-to-human transmission since early last week.