A private hospital in Sta. Cruz, Laguna temporarily closed its emergency room earlier today due to a suspected case of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
Glen Ramos, spokesperson of the Department of Health (DOH) in Calabarzon, said the closure was done to decontaminate the facility at the Laguna Doctors Hospital, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.
“As in all infectious cases, our hospital is practicing all necessary precautions to avoid contamination,” the hospital’s official Facebook page said in a post.
“Once done, they will open it again,” Ramos told Inquirer.
The patient suspected to have MERS was transferred to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Muntinlupa City, ABS-CBN News reported.
DOH-Calabarzon director Dr. Edgardo Janairo told radio station DZMM that they are monitoring the situation but it is currently under control as of the moment. “It would be difficult to control if it spreads,” he said in Filipino.
MERS is an illness caused by a virus called the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV). Common symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It can affect anyone, especially the elderly and those with weakened immune systems and chronic diseases.
The virus does not “pass easily” from person to person unless there is close contact, like caring for an infected person without protection, the WHO added.
Janairo said that it is mandatory for those who interacted with the patient to undergo isolation in their homes. They will be brought to the RITM if symptoms start showing in 21 to 28 days.
The DOH is still waiting for results of the lab tests to find out if the patient was indeed infected with the virus, Rappler reported.
Approximately 35 percent of reported patients with MERS-CoV infection have died globally, the WHO said. The disease was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012.