11 foreigners under investigation for 2019-nCoV

HEALTH Secretary Francisco Duque III on Monday, January 27, said 11 foreign nationals have been under investigation for the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

One of the patients, a five-year-old Chinese boy from Wuhan, was discharged from the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center Friday evening, January 24, shortly after he was cleared of the 2019-nCoV infection based on the laboratory test results from Victoria Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory in Melbourne, Australia.

Ten patients under investigation (PUI) are still confined in various hospitals across the country.

Of the 10, two are in Cebu City, three in Kalibo in Aklan, one in Tacloban City in Leyte, two in Metro Manila, one in Palawan, and one in Camiguin.

Duque stressed that there is still no confirmed 2019-nCoV case in the Philippines and that no Filipinos have been under investigation for the infectious disease.

The PUIs are Chinese, Brazilian, American and German nationals with history of travel to Wuhan City in China, ground zero for the 2019-nCoV outbreak. Duque declined to identify them to protect their privacy.

Laboratory test results for four patients, including the five-year-old boy in Cebu, have been released by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).

Duque did not elaborate on the results, except that these were varied. The Department of Health (DOH) is still awaiting the test results for the seven other patients.

If the throat and nasopharyngeal swabs are found positive of the coronavirus by the RITM, the specimens are sent to Melbourne for confirmation.

Aside from the 11 PUIs, the DOH’s epidemiology bureau also monitored 29 other nCoV-related health events from January 12 to 25, 2020, Duque said in a press briefing at the Malacañang on Monday.

These 29 individuals showed symptoms of respiratory infection but have no history of travel to China.

“Most of them have been sent home,” Duque said.

In Cebu City, an 18-year-old girl is still in isolation at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center while a 61-year-old woman is at the Allied Experts Medical Center.

In Western Visayas, a six-year-old boy and two women, 24 and 32 years old, are confined at the Dr. Rafael S. Tumbokon Memorial Hospital in Kalibo, Aklan.

Two patients in Metro Manila are also under investigation, a 78-year-old man at the Asian Hospital in Muntinlupa City and a 44-year-old man at the Adventist Medical Center in Pasay City.

A 29-year-old man is confined at the Camiguin General Hospital in Northern Mindanao while a 10-year-old girl is in isolation in El Nido, Palawan.

The DOH earlier confirmed that a 36-year-old man is under investigation at the Tacloban City Hospital in Leyte.

The 2019-nCoV has killed 56, all in China, as of 8 a.m. Sunday, January 26. A total of 2014 cases have been documented, including those in Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and France.

The World Health Organization was first notified of the virus on December 21, 2019. On January 7, Chinese authorities confirmed that they have identified the new strain as the 2019-nCoV.

Mode of transmission has not been established although recent data showed possible transmission from person to person.

No definitive treatment has been developed. Only symptomatic treatment and supportive care are given as with any viral infection.

“While the development of a vaccine for nCoV is underway, it may take months to years before it can be made available for public use,” Duque said.

Compared with other coronaviruses, the 2019-nCoV has a lower case fatality rate of 2.7 percent, Duque said. The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars-CoV) had fatality rates of 34-36 percent and 10-12 percent, he added.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses ranging from the common cold to more serious infections such as Mers-CoV and Sars-CoV.

The common signs of coronavirus infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulty. In severe cases, it can cause pneumonia, acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death. (MVI/SunStar Philippines)