Duque: No confirmed case of nCoV but 11 'patients under investigation'

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Duque: No confirmed case of nCoV but 11 'patients under investigation'
A young girl wears a facemask while standing with her luggage at the West Kowloon rail station in Hong Kong on January 23, 2020. The international finance hub has been on high alert for the mystery SARS-like virus ever since it first emerged within the Chinese city of Wuhan, killing 17 people so far.
AFP / Roslan Rahman

MANILA, Philippines — The government is closely monitoring eleven persons who have travel history in Wuhan, China and are showing symptoms linked to the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), Health Secretary Francisco Duque said Monday.

In an interview with CNN Philippines’ “The Source,” Duque stressed that there is “zero” confirmed case of the deadly virus that originated from Wuhan, China. There are, however, 11 patients under investigation (PUIs) in the country.

Those people have been put under quarantine, he said.

 “These are persons under investigation. Two, one of the two is close contact, the other one was for verification yet. We have three experiencing severe acute respiratory infection but no history of travel to Wuhan,” he explained.

Wuhan in Hubei province in China is the epicenter of the outbreak.

The number of persons under investigation excludes the five-year-old boy in Cebu City, whose test for novel coronavirus turned out to be negative, the Health chief added.

In a separate briefing at the Malacañang, Duque said that “there are 39 novel coronavirus-related health events that were reported to the Epidemiology bureau of the DOH.”

These included 23 cases that “considered influenza-like illness,” but Duque explained that it is the season of influenza in the Philippines.

Duque also said that the DOH has created a taskforce on the 2019-nCoV.

PUI exposures

Those considered as PUIs “more often than not presented with symptoms of fever, coughs, cold, some shortness of breath and then travel history in Wuhan,” Duque added.

The Health secretary said that the government is “drawing out” from the PUIs possible exposures to the virus such as the following:

  • The history would reveal if any of these passengers, actually, was in direct contact with confirmed case of novel coronavirus
  • If passenger inbound, that is, has had interaction with person or health worker in a healthcare facility known for taking care of [a] novel coronavirus [confirmed case]
  • If the passenger... did stay or visited the epicenter which is the live animal market, the seafood market in Wuhan City

The toll from the novel coronavirus spiked to 80 on Monday morning. China’s Heath Commission said that there were nearly 6,000 suspected cases and more than 30,000 people under medical observation.

Duque warns against ‘infodemic’

Earlier Monday, the Manila Health Department denied rumors that said there is a novel coronavirus case at Metropolitan Medical Center on Magsaysay Street in Binondo.

Dr. Arnold Pangan, the city’s health officer, said that the supposed case involved a 27-year-old Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator worker that arrived in the country on January 25.

Pangan said the Chinese worker went to the hospital due to fever and cough. The patient was diagnosed with community-acquired pneumonia and is now “well.”

Duque called upon media: “Let’s not be used by unscrupulous groups whose agenda is to propagate an "infodemic",  or to spread false or baseless information about the disease.

“This problem, misinformation can be more viral than the virus that we are all guarding against,” he added.

At the same briefing, Duque advised frequent handwashing as well as avoiding social contact like shaking hands or kissing a person's cheeks.

"You can use the fist bump for now, or just wave 'hello'," he said.

He added people who have colds should use face masks to keep from spreading illness. Those who don't have face masks should cover their mouths when coughing, he also said.

— with reports from Agence France-Presse

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