PH airport authorities concerned over new Ebola outbreak

NAIA fever scanning machine in action Photo © ABS-CBN News

THE Manila International Airport Authority had expressed Monday concern over the inadequate monitoring procedures for passengers coming from the Democratic Republic of Congo following the reported outbreak there of the deadly Ebola virus as it awaits instructions from the health department.

The MIAA’s Bureau of Quarantine (BoQ) said they are only waiting for the instruction or ‘go signal’ from the Department of Health (DOH) to resume the distribution of health forms to arriving passengers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). The practice was stopped on February after all kinds of virus were reportedly put in control.

Nevertheless, according to NAIA physician Geraldine Yangson, although the health form distribution was stopped, the fever scanning system remains 24/7.

Manila has no direct flight from Congo but Quarantine personnel strictly monitoring arriving passengers with connecting flights from the Middle East countries and those from Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand.

“If given the go signal, we will resume the distribution of health forms to all passengers on these flights,” Yangson said.

Three years ago, airport and health authorities have tightened the screening of arriving passengers at the NAIA amid fears of a worldwide spread of the Ebola virus. Passengers of all foreign flights arriving at the NAIA terminals are required to fill out health declaration checklist which asks for their travel histories, addresses and contact details.

 Also, passengers coming from all destinations will also have to walk past the thermal scanners set up in quarantine desks.

 The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that at least one person has died from Ebola after contracting the virus, signaling another outbreak of the disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Meantime, Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager Ed Monreal has instructed airport personnel concern to make sure there is enough hand soap and sanitizer in all rest rooms at the four terminals.   

Benjie Vergara
A veteran reporter covering the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. He is currently writing for Manila Times, the Philippines' oldest newspaper.

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