DOH: It's possible Chinese boy in PH not infected with novel coronavirus

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 22) – The Department of Health (DOH) said Wednesday that the five-year-old boy from Wuhan, China who remains under its close watch may not have contracted the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which originated in the world’s most populous country.

“Meron paring posibilidad na hindi ito novel coronavirus.” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.

[Translation: There is still a possibility that this is not a case of a novel coronavirus.]

The health chief said he finds it odd that the boy was not able to transmit his respiratory virus to his mother, who arrived with him in Cebu City on January 12.

“Ang nakapagtataka lang bakit yung nanay wala namang sintomas [2019-nCoV] na ipinakita”

[Translation: What is confusing is the child’s mother did not exhibited signs of the 2019-nCoV.]

But he added that the mother was also “isolated” and tested for coronavirus as a safety precaution.

The DOH said Tuesday it is monitoring the child, who tested positive for a still unidentified coronavirus strain. Duque said that there are six known coronaviruses.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more serious diseases such as such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV), according to the World Health Organization. They can be transmitted from animal to person or infected human to others, according to the WHO.

The boy’s blood sample and throat swab were sent to a laboratory in Melbourne, Australia to identify the type of coronavirus that infected him. The DOH earlier said the child tested negative for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). The test results may be available by Wednesday or Thursday, Duque earlier said.

Suspend flights from Wuhan, CAAP urged

The boy's case has raised fears the mysterious respiratory illness believed to have first started from an animal in a market in Wuhan City has reached the Philippines.

It has also prompted a lawmaker from the House of Representative to ask the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines to suspend flights coming from Wuhan, China.

In a January 22 letter addressed to CAAP Director General Jim Sydiongco, Muntinlupa City Rep. Ruffy Biazon said, “May I respectfully request that the suspension of these flights of Royal Air Charter Service and all other airlines coming from Wuhan, China to any part of the country, be considered by CAAP in consultation with the Department of Health and other concerned agencies.”

RJ Duque, passenger rights action officer from the Civil Aeronautics Board in Kalibo confirmed to CNN Philippines on Wednesday that airline Royal Air Charter Service offer direct flights from Wuhan to Kalibo, Aklan.

“Inaantay po natin ang confirmatory test result na manggagaling sa Victorian Infectious Disease Reference Laboratory,” Duque said.

[Translation: We are still waiting for the confirmatory test result from Victorian Infectious Disease Reference Laboratory.]

For now, the Philippines still is free from the novela coronavirus, Duque said.

“Wala pa pong naiimport [virus] galing China."

[Translation: No virus has been imported from China yet.]

Officials in China are racing to contain the outbreak of the novel coronavirus that has left at least nine people dead and sickened more than 440, CNN reported Wednesday.

The WHO said confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV have also been reported in Thailand, Japan and South Korea,

Common symptoms of the 2019-nCoV include fever, cough and colds, breathing difficulties, shortness of breath. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

Health experts also urged people to practice good hygiene as it could help them keep healthy and free from sickness.

-wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds

-avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands

-avoid close contact with people who show respiratory illness symptoms (ex. coughing and sneezing)

-thoroughly cook meat and eggs

-cover your mouth and nose with tissue when you cough or sneeze, then wash your hands

-clean and disinfect objects and surfaces

-seek medical attention if you have flu-like symptoms (especially if you have travelled from Wuhan, China)