Typhoon Haiyan (“Yolanda”) in the Philippines


Updated: June 6, 2014

Travel health notice

Typhoon Haiyan (locally called Yolanda) made landfall in central Philippines in November 2013. A state of national calamity remains in effect due to the extensive damage to the area. Critical services such as transportation, electricity and sanitation systems continue to be heavily impacted in some areas. Access to safe food and water supplies and medical services may be limited and strained due to the large scale of the natural disaster. 

There is an ongoing outbreak of measles in Manila and other regions of the country. There have also been reported cases of measles in unimmunized travellers returning to Canada from the Philippines.  Travellers should keep their routine vaccinations, including measles, up-to-date. 

The Public Health Agency of Canada advises that Canadians follow the recommendations below if travelling to affected areas. Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada is advising against non-essential travel to the areas affected by Typhoon Haiyan. Travellers should consult the country advice and advisories page for Philippines for an up-to-date list of affected areas, additional information on safety and security, and instructions if they are in or travelling to the region.  

Recommendations

If you must travel to the affected areas be aware that there is an increased risk of injury and illness:

1. Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel and purchase travel health insurance.

2. Get vaccinated.

  • Make sure you are up-to-date with all of your routine vaccinations including measles.
  • Discuss your travel plans with your health care provider or travel health clinic as there may be other vaccines to consider for your travel to the Philippines.

3. Practise safe food and water precautions.

Widespread damage to infrastructure in the affected areas has displaced millions of people, and has impacted sanitation systems and food and water supplies. Some areas remain inaccessible. There is an increased risk of food- and water-related diseases, like travellers’ diarrhea, cholera, hepatitis A, leptospirosis, schistosomiasis and typhoid.

4. Protect yourself against insect bites.

Flooding and standing water increase the risk of insect-related diseases such as chikungunyadengue feverJapanese encephalitis and malaria. Travellers should take precautions to avoid insect bites.

5. Protect yourself against animal-related diseases.

Due to the displacement of the people in these areas, there is likely an increase of stray animals. Travellers should take precautions to avoid contact with all animals, as they may carry rabies.

  • Discuss the benefits of getting vaccinated with your health care provider.
  • Avoid contact with all animals, wild or domestic.
  • If bitten or scratched, immediately clean the wound and seek medical attention.

6. Pack a travel health kit, with first aid supplies and medication to handle minor injuries and illnesses, and to manage pre-existing medical conditions.

7. Protect yourself against injury and illness:

  • Use caution around downed power lines, water-affected electrical outlets, and interrupted gas lines.
  • Be cautious near moving water. Avoid standing or wading in or driving through moving water.
  • Wear appropriate sturdy footwear in all disaster-affected areas.

8. Be aware:

  • Access to adequate medical care in the affected areas will be very limited.
  • There will be limited or no commercial accommodation available.
  • The stressful situations that you may encounter while providing assistance to victims may cause emotional and/or psychological difficulties. Make sure you have necessary mental health support while in the Philippines and after you return.
  • Persons with chronic or unstable medical conditions should discuss whether to travel to the Philippines with their health care provider.

9. If you are travelling to the affected areas to support relief efforts (aid workers), protect yourself

  • Wash your hands with soap and water frequently
  • Keep your hands away from your face
  • Practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette
    • Cough and sneeze into your arm, not your hand
    • If you use a tissue, dispose of it as soon as possible and remember to wash your hands afterwards.
  • While providing care to someone with diarrhea and/or vomiting or when changing diapers:
    • If possible, wear a gown and gloves
    • Remove and dispose of them after in a plastic bag and close
    • Wash your hands
  • Wear gloves when touching blood, body fluids, mucous membranes and broken skin as well as when handling anything that may have been soiled with blood and body fluids. If you have a needle stick, puncture, cut or blood splash to your eyes, you should seek immediate medical attention.
  • If you are going to be providing medical care to or working with ill or displaced persons, discuss pre and post travel tuberculin skin testing with your health care provider.
  • If you are in close contact with a person who is ill with a fever and coughing, producing sputum or is a suspected or known tuberculosis (TB) patient:
    • Consider wearing Protective Personal Equipment (PPE) and follow proper guidelines for preventing transmission of respiratory diseases such as influenza and TB.
    • If appropriate, place a surgical mask on the sick person.

10. Consult the Philippines travel health page for additional information.

11. After your return home to Canada

  • If you get sick when you return to Canada,
    • see a health care provider and inform them that you have travelled to Philippines and inform them what activities you participated in while in Philippines.
    • if you work in an occupation such as health care, food service and child care, seek medical attention immediately.
  • Be aware that symptoms of malaria, which include a fever, can occur up to one year after your return. Seek medical attention immediately and tell your health care provider that you have travelled to a region where malaria is present.

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