Philippine airports on alert for H7N9 bird flu

MANILA, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) — The Philippine government has alerted airport authorities to ensure that the deadly bird flu H7N9 could not enter the country following the recent discovery of first case in Hong Kong, the Philippines’ Department of Health (DOH) said Wednesday.

DOH spokesman Dr. Eric Tayag said the Philippines is still bird flu free at present, but Philippine “airports screen inbound travelers for fever so that early isolation can be done early.”

Currently, he said the World Health Organization (WTO) and the DOH do not recommend travel ban to Hong Kong or China despite the reported first bird flu case in Hong Kong.

The Philippines, however, maintains ban on poultry imports from China as a precautionary measure against bird flu, he added.

Tayag said that symptoms of bird flu H7N9 include fever, sore throat or cough and progressive difficulty of breathing.

He advised the public to frequently wash the hands, cover the nose and mouth if coughing or sneezing, and wear face masks if needed.

To date there are 141 cases of bird flu and 47 deaths worldwide. Deaths were due to severe pneumonia with multi-organ failure. So far, two-thirds of bird flu H7N9 cases were males and two-thirds were more than 50 years old.

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