Filipino seaman in Togo tests negative for Ebola -- DFA

Posted on August 25, 2014

THE FILIPINO seaman in the West African country of Togo who earlier showed symptoms of the Ebola virus disease has tested negative, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

In a text message to reporters Saturday evening, Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Charles C. Jose said: “Our Embassy in Nigeria reported that the test on the Filipino national yielded a negative result for Ebola, he was diagnosed with the flu.”

A Reuters report earlier said a Filipino in Togo is one of two suspected of being infected with the Ebola virus.

On Thursday last week, a senior health official in Togo was quoted in a Reuters report as saying that “two suspected cases, including a sailor from the Philippines, were being tested for the virus.”

A Togo online news site reported further that the 32-year-old Filipino seaman arrived in the Togolese capital of Lome, suffering from bleeding and vomiting.

The Filipino seaman, together with the Togolese student who was also suspected of Ebola, was monitored in a Togo hospital’s isolation center.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said 2,473 people have been infected with the Ebola virus in the West African countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria; 1,350 have died since the outbreak in March. No cases of Ebola has been confirmed yet outside this region.

In a related development, the Philippine government is set to pull out its soldiers working as United Nations (UN) peace-keepers in Liberia because of the Ebola outbreak, and in the Golan Heights because of its worsening security.

According to Mr. Jose, there are about 145 Filipino peace-keepers in Liberia, composed of personnel from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.

The DFA on Sunday raised crisis alert level 4, requiring mandatory repatriation of Filipino nationals in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

According to the DFA, there are 880 Filipinos in Guinea, 632 in Liberia including 148 peace-keepers and 1,979 Filipinos in Sierra Leone.

Filipino peace-keepers in Liberia have been there for a decade and in the Golan Heights for five years, the DFA said.

“With regard to Golan Heights, there has been a series of incidents involving our peace-keepers which have demonstrated that they are exposed to unexpected serious risks which may worsen on the basis of current developments,” Mr. Jose said.

More than 300 Filipino peace-keepers are also set to return to the Philippines after their tour of duty ends in October. -- Ailyn D. Galura