MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration has started coordinating with the quarantine officers from the Department of Health (DOH) in the preventing the entry of suspected carriers of swine flu from affected countries.
In a statement issued Monday, Immigration Commissioner Marcelino Libanan has directed all immigration personnel to coordinate with DOH personnel to ensure that suspected carriers are now allowed entry to the country.
“In cases such as these, our immigration officers are usually our country’s first line of defense. We will exercise vigilance we used during the SARS scare a few years ago,” Libanan said.
A unique strain of swine flu, which combines genetic material from pigs, birds, and humans, recently became the suspected killer of hundreds of people in Mexico and left more than a thousand suffering.
“Swine flu can easily be mistaken for ordinary flu and colds, so it can easily be ignored, or worse, it can easily travel from one country to another as what we have seen in the States,” Libanan said.
The immigration chief said that based on reports, the new strain of the flu is airborne, thus, the spread of the virus can be faster.
“This is why we at the BI are becoming more vigilant in monitoring the arrivals at our port areas,” Libanan said.
The Health department has recently ordered the thermal screening of inbound passengers at the country’s ports of entry.
“We will exercise the same vigilance we used during the SARS scare a few years ago to guarantee that the Philippines remain swine-flu free,” Libanan said.
Reports that the dealy swine flu has already reached Britain have started to emerge. Ministers say that Britain is ready to deal with the virus.