Health authorities are monitoring international sea vessels in the Cebu International Port amid the heightened alert for the deadly variant of hand, foot and mouth disease from Cambodia.
“Part of our job is to check the health conditions of international seafarers. We do this before the Bureau of Customs and Bureau of Immigration get to check the vessel,” quarantine medical officer Dr. Terence Bermejo told Cebu Daily News.
While the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) has installed thermal scanners in the international arrival area, the Bureau of Quarantine is using a portable thermal scanner in examining the seafarers.
Compared to the previous health threats that entered the country, Bermejo is confident they are “very prepared” in dealing with the enterovirus 71 (EV 71) which causes the deadly hand, foot and mouth disease which claimed at least 52 children in Cambodia this month.
The authorities have also “learned lessons” from previous viruses that had affected the Philippines and neighboring countries like AH1N1, Bermejo said.
The best precautionary measures are always frequent hand washing and proper hygiene, Bermejo added.
The doctor also warned that there is a significant threat of exposure to the disease in crowded public places like malls.
Children’s toys must also be cleaned with soap and water to prevent contracting the fatal disease.
Although it was the first time EV-71 was identified in Cambodia, it was a well-known pathogen elsewhere in Asia.
The disease has exploded across the Asian region since 1997, when the first major outbreak was reported in Malaysia. Since then, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Mongolia, Taiwan and Australia have all wrangled with it.
From January to June this year, 356 people in China and 33 in Vietnam have died from the hand, foot and mouth disease, Bermejo added. /Jessa J. Agua, Correspondent with AP report