An overseas Filipino worker who has been infected with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome – Coronavirus (MERS – CoV) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has successfully recovered from the viral infection, after latest medical tests on said OFW subsequently yielded negative results for MERS-CoV, said Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday.


Citing a report from the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, Baldoz said that an OFW was diagnosed MERS-positive on 25 March and has since been confined at the Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz Hospital, KSA’s specialist hospital for MERS – CoV cases.


On 13 June, the reported MERS – infected OFW was removed from life support, and two days later, was transferred from the hospital’s intensive care unit to a regular ward where he will undergo physical therapy after more than two months of confinement.


The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh is now assisting the OFW in obtaining his salary from his employer, Al-Watania Co.


“It was reported that the OFW apparently contacted the virus from his wife, who works as a nurse in a hospital in Riyadh,” said Baldoz.


The wife-nurse said that she was exposed to MERS patients in February and was diagnosed with MERS – CoV the following month. She was subsequently admitted in a hospital; was discharged on 20 March and was advised to go on home leave. On her fifth day at home, her husband contracted fever and eventually tested positive for MERS – CoV.


“It has come to my attention that Filipino medical workers are reluctant to share information on MERS – CoV patients, owing to stricter administrative sanctions by their employers,” said Baldoz.


“Nonetheless, our Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO), together with the Philippine Embassy, will continue to closely monitor MERS – CoV incidence in Saudi, and reiterate our advisories to the Filipino community,” she added.


The Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH) announced that as of June, there are 1,016 confirmed MERS – CoV cases in KSA. Five hundred sixty-two (562) of them have recovered; 447 died; and seven (7) are under treatment.


The MOH Command and Control Center has been making sure that all government and private health facilities are applying infection control measures. Moreover, they are coordinating with the relevant government sectors, and international organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), in monitoring and following up all developments regarding MERS – CoV.


The MOH is likewise cooperating with the Saudi Ministry of Agriculture in urging camel owners and shepherds to be careful and to protect themselves when dealing with camels. Medical research found out that strains of MERS – CoV have been identified in camels in Qatar, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, and in a bat, also in Saudi Arabia.


“We support the measures taken by the Saudi government to address the outbreak in their country. Once again, I urge our OFWs to continue taking all the necessary precaution, and to strictly follow the health advisories on MERS-CoV,” Baldoz reiterated.



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