The Bureau of Quarantine starting Wednesday will ask all arriving passengers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to remove jackets or roll up sleeves in an effort to detect possible monkeypox cases, five days after the Philippines reported its first case of the disease.
The new health protocol is a supplement to current safety measures in place to detect COVID-19 and other diseases.
"Pag unang tingin kasi, di mo makikita agad-agad na, ah monkeypox ito, until further testing," Dr. Rhaychelle La Rosa, Quarantine Medical Officer at the BOQ, told PTV.
Monkeypox has an incubation period of roughly seven days with the following symptoms: fever, chills, muscle pain, exhaustion, and rashes. Transmission is through direct or close contact with monkeypox rash, scabs, or body fluids from a person with the virus. As such, people are inclined to cover skin up or disinfect surfaces.
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The rashes are a tell-tale sign of monkeypox but are usually the last symptom to appear, meaning those positive with monkeypox may actually be carrying it without knowing.
According to La Rosa, detecting asymptomatic cases once they've landed is a struggle for health authorities.
"Hindi lahat nag-ppresent with fever, and after the fever, yung rashes saka lang yan mag-ddevelop. That's one of the challenges, kaya hindi natin masasabi na yung pasaherong dadaan ay ma-ccatch natin on time," La Rosa said.
Passengers who manifest symptoms of monkeypox shall be separated and be taken to the office clinic, then brought to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine for testing and confirmation.
If positive, the BOQ is prepared conduct contact tracing and proceed with the necessary steps to prevent the further spread of the virus.