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PIA Press Release

Government assures PH remains bird-flu free, warns public of bird flu threats

Tacloban City (November 20) -- Following reports of the first avian influenza case in Hongkong in years, the Department of Health assured the public that the Philippies remained bird flu free ever since the world's first major outbreak among humans in 1997.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona said the health council created to monitor the possible outbreak of avian flu in the country six years ago will be reactivated.

The health agency will also check the status of all thermal scanners it has distributed to all international airports in the country, said Dr. Eduardo Janairo, head of National Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

"We have to make sure if all are still working," said Janairo. The avian flu monitoring council, composed by the Department of Health, the Bureau of Animal Industry, Bureau of Quarantine and the Department Environment and Natural Resources, will also be reactivated, he said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Atty Abigail Valte reminded Filipinos who are planning to spend the holidays abroad to take the necessary precautions.

The usual reminders, just to keep safe and to take the necessary precautions especially if they are planning to visit places with reported similar virus, the deputy spokesperson said.

Hong Kong, which hosts thousands of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), confirmed last Friday its first case of human bird flu in seven years.

As arrivals start to peak for returning overseas Filipino workers, Valte said airport authorities and the Health Department have intensified their vigilance and have put up monitoring equipment to detect persons with bird flu virus.

She said the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) is currently coordinating with health experts from the Department of Health (DOH) to ensure carriers of bird flu virus do not pose a threat to the country.

Arriving passengers, both foreign visitors as well as OFWs, are required to pass through thermal scanners and subjected to ear thermometers.

Records show that the avian influenza (bird flu) virus, especially its sub type H5N1, presents a great threat to humans.

According to the World Health Organization, the virus has crossed the species barrier [from birds to humans] at least in three occasions in recent years. (PIA 8) [top]

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