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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

PPA is on the alert for influenza A virus

Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) has issued guidelines to all its port offices on the Influenza A (H1N1), a deadly virus more known as swine flu, which started in Mexico and is now spreading in different countries around the world. PPA Assistant General Manager for Operations, AGM Leopoldo Bungubung said that the instruction to govern health measures at all seaport entries will focus on arriving/departing passengers and crew from or to international travels to prevent, protect, control and mitigate the transmission or spread of said Influenza virus.


These guidelines which were based on the memorandum circular issued by the Bureau of Quarantine shall strictly enforce and implement the following:


1.                  To assist quarantine personnel in seaports in the heightened surveillance of international travellers arriving with Influenza-like Illness (ILI) and to report any case;


2.                  Assist quarantine personnel in seaports in conducting health promotion and education activities in advising arriving passengers/crew on the importance of the Health Alert Notices (HAN) and if warranted, in the submission of a duly accomplished Health Declaration Checklist to quarantine officials;


3.                  Ensure that all arriving vessels at seaports of entry are to be boarded first by a quarantine medical officer.  It must be emphasized that only after a Free Pratique is issued will other persons be allowed to embark or disembark.  Harbor pilots and port workers shall only board and work on vessels after ascertaining that a Free Pratique has already been granted;


4.                  Issuance of direct berthing privileges (Controlled Pratique) shall be on a case-to-case basis or suspended if warranted, depending on the pandemic alert phase of the virus outbreak.  If direct berthing is allowed, the quarantine medical officer shall clear the vessel first before boarding by other persons;


5.                  Vessel master shall report in advance any case of influenza-like illness, other health emergencies and deaths on board the vessel.  The required health declaration documents shall also be properly accomplished and submitted to the quarantine medical officer;


6.                  Assist in implementing previously designed and agreed upon quarantine health protocols in handling suspected cases of swine influenza or other infectious diseases.


In the wake of the Influenza A outbreak, these screening measures were also being adopted in all airports.


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