27 under investigation for 2019-nCoV in Philippines

MORE and more patients in the Philippines have been placed under investigation (PUI) for the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), said the Department of Health (DOH) Tuesday, January 28, 2020.

In a press briefing, DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said that as of 12 p.m. Tuesday, a total of 27 PUIs have been recorded.

Of the 27, three were discharged as "their laboratory results revealed other diseases," said Duque.

The 24 other PUIs are as follows:

* 18 NCR

* 1 Western Visayas

* 1 Mimaropa

* 1 Eastern Visayas

* 2 Central Visayas

* 1 Northern Mindanao

Duque said the DOH is awaiting results for 18 PUIs from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine for screening, and six PUI laboratory results from the Victorian Infectious Disease Reference Laboratory for confirmation.

He also said that at present, there are 2,798 confirmed cases of the 2019-nCoV globally. Of these cases, 37 were reported in 11 countries outside China.

"The current global case fatality rate of the 2019-nCoV is 2.9 percent, with all 80 deaths recorded in China," said Duque.

Reports from the Associated Press, however, revealed Tuesday that 1,771 new cases were confirmed on Monday, raising the national total to 4,515. Of the number, 976 were in serious condition.

More than 45 cases have also been confirmed elsewhere in the world, and almost all involve Chinese tourists or people who visited Wuhan.

Sri Lanka confirmed its first case Monday. Infections also have been confirmed in the United States, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Nepal, France, Canada and Australia.

With this, Duque said the World Health Organization has classified the risk level for the spread of the 2019-nCoV as very high in China, and high at the regional and global levels.

"We are closely monitoring the patients under investigation," he said, but stressed that there is still no confirmed case of 2019-nCoV in the Philippines.

Duque also revealed during the press briefing Tuesday that during their Inter-Agency Committee meeting, members have agreed to ensure support for overseas Filipinos in China, as well as comprehensive transport and quarantine plans for overseas Filipinos from Hubei province who wish to voluntarily return to the Philippines.

The 2019-nCoV started in Wuhan in Hubei province in China and most of the cases are concentrated there. Reports said Wuhan is building two hospitals, one with 1,500 beds and another with 1,000, for the growing number of patients. The first is scheduled to be finished next week.

Duque said the committee also agreed on proposing temporary restrictions on the issuance of visas for travelers from Hubei, and issuing advisories temporarily discouraging non-essential travel to China.

“I wish to inform our kababayans that the government will take care of you whether you choose to stay or return home. For those who choose to return, you will be taken care of in a health facility for monitoring and further medical management,” he said.

For Filipinos who wish to stay in China, the DOH reiterated adherence to advisories and cooperation with public health activities being done by local authorities.

Duque said the DOH will ensure that all Filipinos in other countries will receive sufficient information and health support through telemedicine.

“I urge the public to remain vigilant. Let us continue practicing good hand hygiene, observing proper cough etiquette, maintaining distance from people manifesting flu-like symptoms, cooking food properly, and adopting healthy lifestyles,” he said.

The 2019-nCoV is from the coronavirus family that includes the common cold but also more severe illnesses like SARS and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. The new virus causes cold- and flu-like symptoms, including cough and fever, and in more severe cases, shortness of breath and pneumonia.

The virus is thought to have spread to people from wild animals sold at a market in Wuhan. On Sunday, January 26, authorities banned trade in wild animals and urged people to stop eating meat from them. (LMY/With PR/AP/SunStar Philippines)