Dubai: Philippine Ambassador to the UAE Grace Princesa on Saturday urged Filipinos working in the medical field to take necessary precautions and better care of their health following the death of a Filipino paramedic infected with the Middle East Respiratory coronavirus (Mers-CoV) in Al Ain.
One paramedic died on Thursday in Al Ain after contracting the Mers-CoV virus according to a statement from the UAE Ministry of Interior on Friday. Five other paramedics, all of whom are Filipinos below the age of 40, are being quarantined and treated at a local hospital and are under observation.
“The embassy has not yet received official confirmation of the situation. A team is on its way to Al Ain to verify the information as we speak,” Princesa told Gulf News, adding, “I urge all our compatriots to take care of their health and take preventive measures to protect themselves, especially from communicable diseases.”
Princesa said Filipinos comprise a large percentage of medical professionals, especially paramedics and nurses, in the UAE. But she said she does not have their exact number at hand.
All the affected paramedics work with the ministry in Al Ain and were diagnosed after a routine medical check up.
On Saturday Gulf News contacted the local hospital where the paramedics were being quarantined to check on their condition but was told that no information could be given at the time.
It is still unclear how the paramedics contracted the virus. An earlier Gulf News report said the paramedics had probably been exposed to elderly and chronically ill patients. In the UAE, the majority of Mers infections have occurred in this section of the population.
Princesa urged everyone working in the medical field to strictly follow standard health procedures of washing their hands, eating and sleeping well, to keep themselves strong against infections.
Meanwhile, news of the death of their fellow paramedic saddened Filipino medics in Dubai and Al Ain.
“Obviously the news is shocking. We were all saddened by this news,” a medic, who has worked in the ambulance services in Dubai for 14 years, told Gulf News on condition of anonymity.
The medic stressed that medical practitioners must not be lax about their own welfare while administering care to patients, especially those with communicable diseases.
“Whenever there is a suspected case of airborne diseases such as tuberculosis or flu, we must always take care of ourselves first by following procedures such as wearing masks and gloves,” the medic said, adding many medics fail to do this in some hospitals for various reasons.