MANILA, Philippines - A Filipino seafarer is being tested for the Ebola virus in Togo, West Africa, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)  confirmed last night.


“To date, test results are being awaited,” DFA spokesman Charles Jose texted to reporters.

Togo health officials had reported two suspected cases of Ebola inv
olving a Filipino seaman and a Togo citizen.

Earlier, the DFA said no Filipino has been affected with the Ebola virus in West Africa.

Administrator Hans Cacdac of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) said Filipino seafarers may soon be prohibited from leaving the ports of Nigeria due to the threat of Ebola.

“The POEA governing board may come out with a resolution expanding to Nigeria the coverage of the guidelines for Filipino workers employed in Ebola-affected countries,” he said.

Filipino workers in Nigeria must take the necessary precautionary measures due to reports that the Ebola epidemic has spread to that country, he added.

However, Cacdac said the government is not yet stopping the deployment of Filipino workers in Nigeria.

“Crisis alert level 1 is in effect in Nigeria, so there is still no deployment ban,” he said.

Under existing guidelines, all shipping companies with vessels operating or calling on Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone ports shall ensure that Filipino seafarers are properly provided with working gear, including personal protective equipment.

Shore leave and crew change are also not allowed for seafarers in the ports of the three Ebola-affected countries.

Land-based Filipino workers employed in the three countries are required to undergo medical test for Ebola and to secure clearance prior to return to the Philippines.

The POEA has also issued a memorandum circular advising recruitment agencies to prepare for the possible mandatory repatriation of OFWs from Ebola-affected counties in case the situation  worsens.

The Philippine embassy in Lagos, Nigeria is in touch with the Filipino community through community organizations and leaders to advise of steps to be taken to avoid contracting the disease, including restricting non-essential movements, avoiding crowded places and taking extra precautions.

Last month, the DFA raised crisis alert level to 2 (Restriction Phase) in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone due to the Ebola outbreak in West  Africa.

Under Alert Level 2, Filipinos in these countries are instructed to restrict non-essential movements, avoid public places and take extra precautions.

Filipinos were urged to follow the advice of local health authorities.

Ebola is an extremely contagious disease, which is spread from close contact with bodily fluids of infected organisms, both human and animal. – Pia Lee-Brago, Mayen Jaymalin (Source: philstar.com/headlines)

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