14 under probe for suspected coronavirus in PH

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

While the Philippines remains free of the novel coronavirus, at least 11 individuals are still placed under investigation for suspected infection of the respiratory illness, the country’s top health official said. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 27)— Fourteen people are under investigation for suspected infection of the novel coronavirus.

Eleven of are cases recorded by the Department of Health from January 12 to 16, reported in hospitals in Muntinlupa City, Pasay City, Kalibo in Aklan, Tacloban, El Nido in Palawan, Cebu City, and Camiguin.

“We're closely monitoring 11 PUIs (patients under investigation), which means they more often than not presented symptoms with fever, cough colds, some shortness of breath, and a travel history in Wuhan,” Health Secretary Franciso Duque III told CNN Philippines’ The Source, stressing that the country remains free of the coronavirus.

Duque said the individuals are of international nationalities — including Chinese, Brazilian, American, and German. The cases had reported travel history in Wuhan, China — the city at the center of the virus’ new strain (2019-nCoV).

The San Lazaro Hospital in Manila confirmed Monday night to CNN Philippines that three Chinese nationals have been admitted and are considered PUIs.

Two of them, a couple who came from Wuhan, had been admitted since Friday. San Lazaro Hospital spokesperson Dr. Ferdinand de Guzman said only the man had exhibited flu-like symptoms, but his female partner had also been admitted.

Another Chinese man from Hubei province has been admitted at the San Lazaro Hospital, De Guzman said. Wuhan is located in Hubei province.

De Guzman said nose and throat swabs from the three Chinese patients have been sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine for testing and have also been sent to Australia for confirmatory testing. They expect results from Australia on Wednesday or Thursday.

Some of the PUIs have already tested negative for the coronavirus — including a five-year-old boy in Cebu, and the Brazilian and Taiwanese children in Palawan, and the 29-year-old man in Camiguin.

“What we know is that the one in Cebu, the five-year-old has been discharged already. And there are some who are in the process of being released now,” DOH Epidemiology Bureau officer-in-charge Chito Avelino said in a media briefing in Malacañang.

Duque added there’s no cause for alarm for other patients who would seek treatment in hospitals where some of the PUIs are housed.

“There shouldn’t be any cause for alarm just because we flashed (presented) the areas where the PUIs come from, doesn’t meant that those areas are infected with the novel coronavirus. Because there is none,” Duque said.

Aside from respiratory and fever symptoms, other cases which can be categorized as PUIs include: individuals who have had direct contact with a confirmed case of novel coronavirus; individuals who had interactions with health workers of a facility tackling the illness; individuals who have visited the animal market in Wuhan— the Chinese city at the center of the virus’ new strain(2019-nCoV); and individuals who have had contact or eaten animals from the market.

The coronaviruses, believed to be a cousin of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus, are a large group of viruses common among animals, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The World Health Organization, however, said the coronavirus is “not as deadly” as SARS—as the latter posted a higher mortality rate.

In advanced cases, the virus can also cause other respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia.

At least 80 people have been killed by the mysterious respiratory illness in China, CNN reported Monday. Over 2,000 confirmed cases have also been listed.

The outbreak of the coronavirus—which has spread to other regions including the United States and Europe—has prompted several international airports to impose stricter security and monitoring measures.

‘Zero confirmed cases, no to fake news’

Meanwhile, the Manila Health Department stressed there is no confirmed case of coronavirus at the Metropolitan Hospital in Binondo— countering claims circulating online.

In a statement, the city government said the suspected case—a 27-year-old man from Obei, China—showed symptoms but did not list any history of travel to Wuhan, or history of exposure to a positive case.

The Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Alabang also debunked speculations that it is treating a patient with confirmed 2019-nCov.

Duque also appealed to some Filipinos, particularly netizens, to stop spreading false information amid the ongoing coronavirus scare.

“This can cause a lot of anxiety and undue fear. We have to be very careful. Do not absorb all these news just because you find it on social media,” the Health Secretary said.