Despite apprehensions that the Philippines is not ready to handle the deadly Ebola virus, Department of Health (DOH) undersecretary Janette Garin said the country is prepared to receive over 100 Filipino peacekeepers coming from Ebola-hit country Liberia.
According to Garin, the United Nations peacekeepers will be undergoing a 21-day quarantine in the Philippines. Prior to their return, they have been subjected to a 21-day quarantine in Liberia.
To ensure that the Philippines will be free from the epidemic which has killed over 4,500 people in the current outbreak, the peacekeepers will not be allowed to see their family during the quarantine period.
In an interview with ANC, Garin said:
“They’re coming via chartered flight. We believe the military is in the best position to announce their plans, but precise for us to say they have already started quarantine in Liberia.”
Garin also disclosed that the government has allocated four small buildings for the 140 peacekeepers returning to the Philippines. Those who will test positive for Ebola virus will stay at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).
Moreover, Garin pointed out that the P500-million emergency fund has been instrumental in getting more hospitals and staff equipped for the epidemic.
The DOH undersecretary also stressed that Ebola virus is not as contagious as the public perceive it to be.
“Measles is even more contagious because it’s airborne. In HIV, they are silent carriers of the virus. In Ebola, unless they manifest symptoms very clearly and glaringly, then that’s the only time that they’re infective.”
Although only supportive treatment is provided for Ebola patients, Garin said the mortality rate is almost zero if the disease is diagnosed early.
“It’s a matter of providing adequate and appropriate healthcare, protecting our health workers at the same time, and not allowing stigma to sink in.”