China virus risk 'low to moderate' in Philippines

AMID the emergence of more details on the mysterious pneumonia virus that has struck dozens of people in China, an official of the Department of Health (DOH) believes the Philippines must not let its guard down.

In an interview, DOH Undersecretary Eric Domingo said the country remains at low to moderate level of risk from the mysterious pneumonia virus that has caused an outbreak in China.

"Given our proximity to China and the number of flights between the Philippines and China, we can say we are at moderate risk of a person with an illness coming into the country," said Domingo.

"But the risk, even if someone enters the country with the virus, of him transmitting to another is very low," he added.

Domingo issued the statement after receiving information from their counterparts in China and the World Health Organization regarding the mysterious virus that originated in Wuhan, China.

According to the health official, they have been informed that it is likely from the same family of viruses as the deadly severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

However, Domingo said they have learned that the new virus is not as deadly as MERS and SARS.

"It is not as severe like the previous ones SARS and MERS, which had higher mortality rate," said the official.

He also pointed that the present virus is not as transmissible as its predecessors.

Domingo noted how there have been no records yet of human-to-human transmission of the virus.

"It looks like the virus came from animals, who infected people. There has been no record yet of an infected individual infecting others," said Domingo.

Earlier, Chinese health authorities declared an outbreak after recording 59 cases of an unknown viral pneumonia from the city of Wuhan, China. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)