'Code Red': Philippines confirms 2 cases of local coronavirus transmission

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 7) — There are now two cases of local coronavirus transmission in the country, prompting the Department of Health to raise the nationwide alert level to contain the spread of the virus.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III in a media briefing on Saturday confirmed that the 62-year-old Filipino man from Cainta, Rizal province, had no recent travel history abroad, based on Immigration records. Duque said the government's contract tracing teams have yet to determine how he contracted the virus.

READ: Cainta, Rizal steps up coronavirus measures amid confirmed case

The man's 59-year-old wife also tested positive for the coronavirus disease of COVID-19, making her the second case of local transmission.

The DOH has raised its coronavirus alert system to Code Red sublevel 1, with Duque stressing that this is "a preemptive call to ensure that national and local governments and public and private health care providers can prepare for possible increase in suspected and confirmed cases."

"At this stage of localized transmission, intensified contact tracing and home quarantine of close contacts of confirmed cases, improved hospital preparedness, enhanced Severe Acute Respiratory Illness surveillance, and activation of other laboratories outside of [the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine] to increase capacity to diagnose are now being implemented," Duque said.

He stressed that there is no community transmission, since there are no "unlinked" clusters of cases. But once several transmissions are reported in different places, Duque said sublevel 2 would be raised, meaning the implementation of community-level quarantines or lockdowns. Under this alert level also, classes and work may be suspended.

The DOH has recommended to President Rodrigo Duterte placing the country under a State of Public Health Emergency to facilitate faster mobilization and procurement of necessary resources. He expects the President to make the declaration on Monday.

The Philippines now has six confirmed coronavirus of coronavirus. Aside from the couple, the other confirmed case is a 48-year-old man who works for Taguig-based consulting firm Deloitte Philippines. He recently traveled to Tokyo, Japan and returned on March 3 on board flight PR421 from Haneda Airport.

Earlier, three Chinese visitors have been infected with the virus – one of them died, while the remaining two have since recovered and left the country.

How are the coronavirus patients?

The country's latest case had cough and was admitted at the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine on March 5. She is in "stable condition," Duque said. She is exhibiting mild respiratory symptoms, like the patient from Tokyo, according to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.

However, her husband is in "critical condition" because of various ailments. Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that aside from hypertension and diabetes milletus, the man has been diagnosed with acute kidney injury as well.

Duque said that based on experience in other countries, patients with conditions take a "very long time" to recover from coronavirus.

The new coronavirus has killed more than 3,400 people, mostly in China, since the outbreak began in Wuhan City in Hubei province in December last year. It has infected so far over 101,300 people worldwide.

Local authorities are also monitoring the situation of 500 Filipinos on board the quarantined cruise ship in California. World Health Organization Country Representative Rabindra Abeyasinghe said they have received information that six Filipino crew members have tested positive for coronavirus, but this has yet to be confirmed.