DOH orders tighter checks on travelers to PH as mysterious pneumonia spreads in China

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 5) — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has ordered the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) to intensify checks on all travelers coming to the Philippines amid reports of an “unknown form of viral pneumonia” spreading in a Chinese city south of Beijing.

The Health department assured that the BOQ is on alert and is closely watching all seaports and airports.

"I urge the public, especially those with history of travel from China, to seek immediate medical consult if experiencing any flu-like symptoms,” Duque said Sunday in a statement.

Chinese state media reported Friday that cases of viral pneumonia have reached 44 in the city of Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province. Eleven of them were in critical condition, while the rest are stable, the Global Times reported.

It also reported that all the patients have been quarantined and around 121 people who came in contact with them have been placed under medical observation.

The source of the infection is still under investigation, Chinese state media said, as common flu, bird flu and adenovirus infections have all been ruled out.

It added that five similar pneumonia cases have been reported in the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, the Strait Times reported Saturday that Singapore’s Ministry of Health has been notified of the first suspected case of the respiratory infection, involving a three-year-old girl from China who had pneumonia and had traveled to Wuhan.

The girl is in a stable condition, the Singaporean newspaper reported.

It added that Singapore has started temperature screening for passengers arriving from the city at Changi Airport, while doctors are on the lookout for possible cases.

The Global Times said some of the first patients afflicted with the still-unknown infection were vendors at a seafood market in Wuhan.