No confirmed Wuhan coronavirus case in PH – DOH

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 24) — The Department of Health said Friday there is still no confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in the Philippines.

“Until now, we have no verified case,” Health Undersecretary Rolando Domingo said in a briefing, referring to the new coronavirus called 2019-nCov.

The DOH also announced that samples from the five-year-old boy from Wuhan, China — where the new coronavirus outbreak began — tested negative for the infection.  They sent the child’s specimen to an infectious disease reference laboratory in Melbourne, Australia after he yielded a positive result for a still unidentified coronavirus, health authorities earlier announced. The boy arrived in Cebu City with his mother on January 12.

Domingo initially said the test results may come out next Tuesday because it is a holiday in Australia on Monday.

But they added he also tested negative for the lethal Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.

READ: Philippines stops accepting flights from Wuhan, origin of new coronavirus

On Thursday, a local test result from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine showed that he tested negative for coronavirus, which is indicative of his improving health.

Domingo explained that those who contract coronaviruses or the large family of viruses which cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to the more serious MERS and SARS would have to yield two negative results for the viral infection before being discharged. The local tests are done 24 hours apart, he added.

Suspected case from Tacloban

The health official also said that there is one more suspected novel coronavirus case from Tacloban.

The suspected case is a 36-year-old American man from Tacloban, Domingo said.

Domingo said the man has not been clinically screened for the possible presence of coronavirus.

“Even the one in Tacloban is a suspect[ed] case of new coronavirus. Wala pa naman siyang positive test for the pancoronavirus [Translation: He still does not have a positive test result for the pancoronavirus.]." 

Pancoronavirus screening is a test to determine if a person has contracted a strain of coronavirus.

Wuhan coronavirus: Is it safe to travel?

Domingo refused to divulge details so as to protect the privacy of the suspected cases.

“We don’t (want) people to be scared of them or the family, for example, being ostracized. Sometimes a few details make it easy for them to be identified,” Domingo said.

Postpone travel to China

Domingo advised the public to temporarily suspend their travel to China while there is still an outbreak there.

“It might be prudent to delay the flight until the disease is completely understood and it is more contained,” he said.

Wuhan coronavirus: Is it safe to travel?

The World Health Organization declared that the Wuhan coronavirus, which sparks widespread fears of a deadly pandemic, is not yet a public health emergency of international concern. The novel coronavirus or 2019-nCov has left at least 26 people dead and sickened more than 800 others in China. It has spread to other parts of Asia and even the United States.

WHO defines a public health emergency of international concern as "an extraordinary event" constituting a "public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease and to potentially require a coordinated international response."