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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Catapang Gets Assurance from WHO on Ebola

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Pio P. Catapang, Jr. “was relieved ” after getting a briefing from World Health Organization (WHO) representatives in the Philippines about the Ebola virus.
A statement from the AFP said Catapang visited the WHO Philippines office in Manila days after he and Health acting Secretary Janette Garin came under fire for allegedly violating WHO protocols on the Ebola virus disease when they mingled with quarantined peacekeepers at Caballo Island in Cavite.
Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, the AFP public affairs office (PAO) chief, said Catapang had a 30-minute meeting with senior representatives of WHO-Philippines.
During the meeting, he was briefed by Dr. Megan Counahan, WHO Philippines’ Ebola expert, about the Ebola disease.
“Learning that Ebola is not an ‘efficient virus’ and could only infect people who get in contact with bodily fluids of sick persons who got the disease, Catapang was relieved of worries,” according to the AFP statement.
“Indeed, like the peacekeepers, I am Ebola-free,” Catapang was quoted in the statement.
He also vowed to collaborate with both WHO and the Department of Health (DoH) in disseminating correct information about the dreaded disease. 

In the same meeting, Catapang handed over a thank letter to the organization for issuing a press statement that “supports the Department of Health (DOH) and AFP’s action” to visit the UN peacekeepers in Caballo island, without any personal protection equipment (PPE).
Cabunoc noted that on the same (Friday), news articles in national dailies carried the statement issued by WHO regarding the correct use PPE, which critics said the officials should have worn when they visited and mingled with the peacekeepers. The WHO, however, said the PPE is needed only when dealing with persons who have symptoms of the Ebola disease.
The lone UN Filipino peacekeeper who developed high fever following their return from Liberia was diagnosed with malaria and was promptly evacuated Nov. 14 to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Muntinlupa City.
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