3 Chinese nationals quarantined in Kalibo

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star
3 Chinese nationals quarantined in Kalibo
Based on the report of Panay News, a 29-year-old Chinese national was the first to be placed in hospital isolation last Jan. 17. The three-year-old girl was put in quarantine last Jan. 18 followed by a 65-year-old man.
AFP / File

MANILA, Philippines — Three Chinese nationals, including a three-year-old girl, were placed in quarantine after arrival at the Kalibo airport on suspicion that they are infected with the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) first reported in China last December.

Based on the report of Panay News, a 29-year-old Chinese national was the first to be placed in hospital isolation last Jan. 17. The three-year-old girl was put in quarantine last Jan. 18 followed by a 65-year-old man. 

The three Chinese nationals reportedly came from different provinces of China.

The Kalibo airport has direct international flights from various countries, including China.

Quoting Dr. Cornelio Cuahon of the Kalibo Provincial Health Office, the report showed the three were brought to Dr. Rafael S. Tumbukon Memorial Hospital. 

Travel between the Philippines and China is expected to increase due to the upcoming Chinese New Year on Jan. 25.

The STAR tried to confirm the report with the Department of Health but no confirmation was given.

Chinese authorities reported yesterday that 139 new cases were detected over the weekend as the virus spread across various provinces, as well as in the capital Beijing.   

Since the disease was first detected in Wuhan province in China, cases were also reported in Thailand and Japan.

Lunar migration

The new SARS-like virus has killed a third person, spread around China and reached a third Asian country, authorities said Monday, fuelling fears of a major outbreak as millions begin traveling for the Lunar New Year in humanity’s biggest migration.

The new coronavirus strain, first discovered in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, has caused alarm because of its connection to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.

Wuhan has 11 million inhabitants and serves as a major transport hub, including during the annual Lunar New Year holiday which begins later this week and sees hundreds of millions of Chinese people travel across the country to visit family.

A third person was confirmed to have died and 136 new cases were found over the weekend in Wuhan, the local health commission said, taking the total number of people to have been diagnosed with the virus in China to 201.

South Korea on Monday reported its first case – a 35-year-old woman who flew in from Wuhan. Thailand and Japan have previously confirmed a total of three cases – all of whom had visited the Chinese city.

No human-to-human transmission has been confirmed so far, but authorities have not ruled out the possibility.

Health authorities in Beijing’s Daxing district said two people who had traveled to Wuhan were treated for pneumonia linked to the virus and are in stable condition.

In southern Guangdong province, a 66-year-old Shenzhen man was quarantined on Jan. 11 after contracting a fever and showing other symptoms following a trip to visit relatives in Wuhan, the provincial health commission said. He is also in stable condition.

Another 44 people are under medical observation in Beijing, as well as a dozen more in Shenzhen and eastern Zhejiang province, according to state media.

“Experts believe that the current epidemic situation can still be controlled,” the National Health Commission said Sunday.

But the commission acknowledged that the source of the coronavirus and its mode of transmission have yet to be known.

The virus did not slow down the annual holiday travel rush, though some travelers wore masks at crowded railway stations in Beijing and Shanghai.

“Watching the news, I do feel a little worried. But I haven’t taken precautionary measures beyond wearing regular masks,” said Li Yang, a 28-year-old account manager who was heading home to the northern region of Inner Mongolia for the Lunar New Year.

Detection measures

A seafood market is believed to be the center of the outbreak in Wuhan, but health officials have reported that some patients had no history of contact with the facility.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Twitter Monday that “an animal source seems the most likely primary source” with “some limited human-to-human transmission occurring between close contacts.”

It said the new cases in China were the result of “increased searching and testing for (the virus) among people sick with respiratory illness.”

Scientists with the MRC Center for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College in London warned in a paper published Friday that the number of cases in the city was likely to be closer to 1,700, much higher than the number officially identified.

Wuhan authorities said they have installed infrared thermometers at airports, railway stations and coach stations across the city. Passengers with fevers were being registered, given masks and taken to medical institutions.

State TV footage aired Monday showed medical staff working inside an isolation ward at a Wuhan hospital in full-body suits.

In Hong Kong, health officials announced they were expanding their enhanced checks on arrivals to include anyone coming in from Hubei province, not just Wuhan, its capital. Over 100 people are being monitored in the city.

Passengers are also being screened at some airports in Thailand and the United States.

In Wuhan, 170 people are still being treated at hospital, including nine in critical condition, the city health commission said, adding that 25 people have been discharged so far.

Chinese state media moved to calm the mood as discussion about the coronavirus spreading to other Chinese cities swelled on social media.

Nationalist tabloid Global Times called for better handling of the new virus than that of the 2003 SARS outbreak.

The foreign ministry said Monday that Beijing had informed the WHO and other countries about the virus “in a timely manner.”

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