Friday, 9 May 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Palace: Government issues advisory concerning new Mideast virus

The Philippine government is assisting Filipinos in the Middle East in areas with reported presence of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus (MERS-CoV) to ensure their health and prevent the spread of the disease, the Palace said on Tuesday.

In a press briefing in Malacanang, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said the Department of Foreign Affairs, through the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi, dispatched a team on April 12 to determine the condition of the Filipinos who have reportedly contracted the virus.

“The Embassy is continuously coordinating with the health authorities of Abu Dhabi in monitoring the cases of Filipinos possibly affected with MERS Corona Virus and the DFA urges Filipino nationals to heed the advice given by health authorities,” Coloma said.

He said one Filipino died of the disease on April 10, as confirmed by foreign affairs officials, while five others who were reportedly affected remain in quarantine as a precaution.

The Department of Health has updated President Aquino on the incidence of the disease in the Middle Eastern countries.

In accordance with the President’s instructions, the DOH issued an advisory underscore concern for the said virus.

While no travel restrictions have been issued as a precaution, Filipinos traveling to the Middle East are advised to avoid contact with persons showing influenza-like illness and to observe frequent hand washing.

Those returning from the Middle East who become ill within two weeks upon arrival are advised to delay visits to crowded places and to seek immediate medical attention.

Hospitals have been instructed to report to the DOH any patient who may be suspected of contracting the MERS-CoV infection.

All persons who recently traveled to the Middle East and are experiencing severe respiratory illness should be tested at the nearest hospital.

These cases will be reported to the National Epidemiology Center, while the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine will confirm the diagnosis.

The advisory also said the Bureau of Quarantine continues to screen travelers at different points of entry.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US, the MERS-CoV is a viral respiratory illness first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

Most people who have been confirmed to have MERS-CoV infection developed severe acute respiratory illness, the CDC said.

Symptoms of the disease include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. About half of those who contracted it have died. The virus has spread from ill people to others through close contact.

The CDC noted that so far, all the cases have been linked to six countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula. PND (as)

Palace welcomes news on possible increase in mango exports to the U.S.

The Palace on Tuesday welcomed the United States’ plan to import more mangoes from the Philippines by allowing more mango-growing regions in the country to ship their produce to the US.

Malacanang also said it is pleased with the news that the US now allows Philippine carriers to fly to different destinations in America, which would mean greater economic benefits for both countries.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a press briefing that after the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines addressed the air safety concerns of the US Federal Aviation Authority and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Philippine carriers can now serve US and European destinations.

“If, in another front we get good news, then we welcome that news with total appreciation and we hope that it will result in even more beneficial outcomes to our farmers and to our industry,” Coloma said on the planned increase in US mango exports to the US.

“Let us be aware that there is an entire spectrum of relationships in the international field—both multilaterally and bilaterally,” he said.

It was recently reported that mango industry representatives have until June 9 to respond to proposals from US plant health authorities on mangoes imported from the Philippines.

If the proposals put forth by the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) are approved, four new mango-producing regions in the Philippines could ship their products to the world’s largest economy.

Current US rules only allow the import of Philippine mangoes from the region of Guimaras, but Filipino officials have asked American authorities to recognize new pest-free areas that also produce mangoes.

After an assessment, APHIS has recommended that mango-growing regions in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao be declared free of mango seed weevil and mango pulp weevil.

US President Barack Obama is arriving in the Philippines late this month as part of his four-nation Asian tour. Obama is also visiting Japan, South Korea, and Malaysia.

Coloma said President Aquino and his American counterpart will discuss topics of mutual concern, such as defense and security, and economic relations. PND (as)

Palace braces public on power supply yellow alert

Malacanang announced Tuesday the power supply for the island of Luzon will be on yellow alert Wednesday (April 16, 2014).

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. told reporters that this is what Department of Energy (DOE) Undersecretary Raul Aguilos informed him through a text message Tuesday afternoon.

“Per latest information, the Masinloc Unit 2 went offline again and Pagbilao Power Plant is on extended shutdown today,” said Aguilos in a text message to Coloma.

In the same text message Aguilos told Coloma that the situation will normalize on Thursday.

“With the gas restriction of Malampaya Plant starting 6AM, Wednesday we might be on yellow alert but we expect normalization by Thursday,” quoting Aguilos’s text message. PND (ag)