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Baldoz to POEA: Keep seafarers updated on Ebola

To further help Filipino seafarers avoid getting the dreaded Ebola virus disease (EVD), which has already killed over 4,000 in West Africa, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has disseminated a circular on Ebola prevention.

In a statement Wednesday, the Labor Department said the circular by the International Maritime Organization was aimed at both seafarers and manning agencies.

According to the Labor Department, IMO Circular Letter No. 3484 advises all IMO member states, intergovernmental organizations, and non-government organizations in consultative status with the IMO on precautions to take to minimize risks to seafarers, passengers, and others on board ships from EVD.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz ordered the POEA to mobilize its personnel to "link up and coordinate with ship owners, crewing agents, and manning agencies and continue disseminating accurate and updated information on the EVD."

This includes prescribed precautionary measures issued by world health authorities, she said.

Precautions

Last August, the POEA issued Memorandum Circular No. 07, outlining guidelines for seafarers and manning agencies in taking precautions against EVD infection.

At the time, the POEA Governing Board banned the deployment on newly-hired OFWs to Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and other countries that may be EVD-contaminated.

In the guidelines, POEA administrator Hans Leo Cacdac directed the public to the following source of official information to make them aware and understand EVD:

-- Department of Health (DOH)
Ebola Advisory (Tagalog Version)

-- World Health Organization (WHO)
Ebola Virus Disease Fact Sheet No. 103

Symptoms

On the other hand, the IMO circular noted that a person infected with EVD can spread the virus to others after the showing symptoms of the virus.

"A person usually has no symptoms for two to 21 days, the incubation period," it said.

WHO said EVD symptoms include fever, weakness, muscle pain, headache, and sore throat, followed by vomitting, diarrhoaea, rash, and in some cases, bleeding.

IMO also said the first thing a seafarer, passenger, or other person need to do if he or she has stayed in areas where EVD cases have been reported is to seek medical attention at the first sign of illness.

"Early treatment can improve prognosis," it said.

It also said any person with illness consistent with EVD, or any person who has had contact with, or is confirmed as having contracted EVD, should not be allowed to join a ship or travel internationally, unless the travel is part of an appropriate medical evacuation.

International support

Meanwhile, Baldoz reiterated the IMO's advice for international cooperation to support action to contain the EVD virus.

"Even if the Philippines is a non-affected country, we need to strengthen our capacity to detect and prevent contagion," she said. 

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