Guam Airport Ready For MERS Virus Cases

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Checks are in place to prevent introduction of disease

By Cameron Miculka

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, June 15, 2015) – The Guam International Airport Authority said it's prepared for any MERS cases in Guam.

As of yesterday, South Korea reported that 16 people in the country had died from MERS.

The Associated Press has reported there is no evidence that the virus is spreading outside of hospitals and health facilities.

Still, airport staff here said there are several levels of checks in place to prevent the introduction of MERS to Guam.

Airport spokeswoman Rolenda Faasuamalie said before any passengers board flights to Guam from Seoul, South Korea, they are all screened at their gates.

Anybody who shows symptoms of MERS is prevented from boarding the plane.

If a person with MERS begins showing symptoms on board the aircraft, cabin crews have been instructed to "create an isolation chamber around the passenger seat" and take other steps, such as having the person wear a mask and gloves.

Faasuamalie said some airlines have stepped up their procedures to disinfect aircraft after flights.

Watch list

On Friday, the governor's office said a South Korean man was cleared for traveling from Guam after being placed on a "watch list" for possible MERS cases.

The man didn't have MERS.

The man was barred from boarding a Jeju Airlines flight from Guam because of his placement on the list.

He was placed on the list because he was treated at a South Korean hospital for a broken finger. The same hospital was treating MERS patients.

Still on Guam

The man and his family were contained and later cleared of the illness, but he's still on island being monitored by the Department of Public Health and Social Services.

Faasuamalie said the watch list is put together by the South Korean government and was given to airlines to screen passengers as they check in for departure.

It's still unclear how the man was allowed to board a plane to Guam despite being on the list.

In the event that a person carrying MERS does arrive in Guam undetected, Faasuamalie said the airport's policy is to immediately take the person to a holding area and have Public Health contacted.

Faasuamalie said the protocols in place are similar to those taken to prevent outbreaks of SARS and the Ebola virus.

The Associated Press reported that the virus in South Korea is spreading among health facilities but isn't expected to go beyond their walls.

The rate of new infections appears to be declining in that country, according to the report.

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