A bishop on Monday advised Filipino workers in countries with reported cases of the Zika virus to be vigilant and always be mindful of the disease.
"Our dearest OFWs, please be always cautious and be aware of the danger of Zika virus," said Bishop Ruperto Santos, chair of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines – Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant Peoples. "Don't take it for granted."
The UN health agency has warned that the mosquito-borne virus was "spreading explosively" in the Americas, with the region expected to see up to four million cases this year.
Although the virus' symptoms are relatively mild, it is believed to be linked to a surge in cases of microcephaly, a devastating condition in which a baby is born with an abnormally small head and brain. [Click here for quick facts on the Zika virus]
Santos said OFWs in affected areas should make sure that their surroundings are clean and have no places with stagnant waters.
"Take necessary prevention: in your work take insect repellant and wear protective clothing," he added.
Meanwhile, OFW advocate Susan Ople urged the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department of Health (DOH) to include information about the disease in the mandatory pre-departure seminars for OFWs.
"Since the Zika virus is transmitted via mosquito bites with no known cure, it would be helpful for our OFWs, especially seafarers, to be more aware about it," she said.
"By arming them with proper information, we would be able to contribute more to global efforts to prevent the spread of this mosquito-borne disease," Ople added.