DOH investigates suspected case of new coronavirus in Cebu City

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com
DOH investigates suspected case of new coronavirus in Cebu City
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 — The Department of Health is currently investigating a pneumonia case of a five-year-old child in Cebu City for suspected novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

The child was admitted to a Cebu City hospital for manifesting fever, throat irritation and cough prior to entrance to the country.

The DOH said the child also has a travel history in Wuhan, China, where the 2019-nCoV was first detected last December.

According to the agency, the patient is “still experiencing cough but is currently stable and afebrile.”

The patient was first tested at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine and yielded negative for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-related Coronavirus and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-related Coronavirus.

However, the health agency said the samples tested positive for non-specific pancoronavirus assay so it was sent to Australia for further identification of the specific coronavirus strain.

3 Chinese nationals quarantined in Kalibo now out of hospital

Meanwhile, the DOH is also monitoring three Chinese nationals with flu-like symptoms in Kalibo, Aklan.

They were referred to be quarantined by the Bureau of Quarantine after showing flu-like symptoms such as colds, cough, sore throat and fever upon their entry to Kalibo International Airport from China.

According to Cornelio Cuachon Jr., Aklan provincial health office, these individuals only stayed overnight in the provincial hospital and were discharged when they no longer manifested any symptoms.

The first Chinese national was a 29-year-old who arrived last January 17, the second was a 3-year-old female who arrived the following day and the third was a 65-year-old man who arrived Monday.

Cuachon, in a phone patch interview with CNN Philippines, said the three tourists were from Nanjin, Shanghai and Chengdu, China, respectively. Nanjin is a six-hour drive away from Wuhan but the health officer said the Chinese nationals do not have a recent travel history in Wuhan.

Despite being out of the hospital, Cuachon said the three outpatients would continuously undergo monitoring.

He added that they took specimen samples to determine if they have the new disease likened to SARS. Their specimen was sent to the RITM for further examination.

Cuachon said there is no definite time yet as to when they would be cleared.

According to him, the Chinese tourists would also undergo another clearance examination before they could leave the country.

On Tuesday, China confirmed human-to-human transmission in the outbreak of the SARS-like virus that infected more than 200 in China.

It reported four persons died from the mysterious disease.

The DOH said the coronavirus is a large family of viruses ranging from the common cold to more serious infections such as MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV.

Among the signs of coronavirus infection are respiratory symptoms, fever, cough shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

It added that severe cases might lead to pneumonia, acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and death.

Chinese Lunar New Year revelers may pave way for entry of novel coronavirus

Sen. Imee Marcos expressed alarm over the reported novel coronavirus deaths.

She said the influx of Chinese vacationers celebrating the Lunar New Year this weekend may spread the new strain of pneumonia-causing virus in the Philippines.

The senator added that “lax immigration procedures for Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) also increased the country's health risk to the virus that Chinese officials have traced to an animal and seafood market in Wuhan, the capital of the central mainland province of Hubei.”

Marcos called on the public to be alert and practice precautionary measures. She also urged the DOH to conduct possible quarantine of infected persons aside from the usual health scans and standard airport procedures.

"Ganyan kasi nangyari sa atin sa HIV. Nagulat na lang tayo na biglang exponential na ang increase dahil hindi tayo naging maagap. Sa Pilipinas ang may pinakamabilis na paglaganap ng sakit sa buong Southeast Asia," Marcos warned.

(That’s what happened with HIV. We’re just surprised by the exponential increase because we’re not cautious. The Philippines has the fastest way of transmission of disease in the whole of Southeast Asia.)

"Dapat maging alerto at magpatupad ng precautionary measure ang Department of Health, Manila International Airport Authority at iba pang ahensya ng gobyerno para di makalusot ang coronavirus na maaaring manggaling sa China, Thailand, o Japan," Marcos said.

(We should be alert and the DOH, MIAA and other government agencies should implement precautionary measures to avoid entry of coronavirus from China, Thailand or Japan.)

Bureau of Quarantine on heightened alert

In view of the novel coronavirus scare, Cuachon said the Bureau of Quarantine is on heightened alert to examine passengers from air and sea travel.

The DOH said the bureau is working with airlines and airport authorities to strengthen border surveillance.

On the other hand, the Epidemiology Bureau heightened its community surveillance.

The DOH advised the public to practice frequent handwashing, avoid unprotected contact with farm or wild animals, practice proper cough etiquette, and ensure the food is well-cooked to prevent novel coronavirus and other diseases.

“I urge travelers with symptoms of respiratory illness, either during or after travel, to seek medical attention immediately,” DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said.

“I also call on health facilities to enhance standard infection prevention and control practices, especially in our emergency departments. We must always be ready,” he added.

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