Chinese patient under observation for nCoV dies at San Lazaro Hospital

Marje Pelayo

MANILA, Philippines — A 29-year-old Chinese patient who was among the persons under investigation (PUI) for the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in San Lazaro Hospital died due to pneumonia on Wednesday (January 29).

But the Department of Health (DOH) clarified that the man died of complications as he was also diagnosed with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

“He is positive of the HIV- AIDS screening test done twice. Iyong clinical manifestation, lahat ng kulani sa buong katawan namamaga. Ang dami-daming lesion noong tao sa mukha (Based on clinical manifestation, his lymph nodes were swelling up. He has lesions all over his face),” described Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

“If only I could show you the picture. Payat na payat iyong tao pati puwet may warts (The person was so skinny and had lots of anal warts). It’s possible again (that he had) sepsis. So I think it’s more of an overwhelming opportunist infection,” he added.

The DOH said that from the 27 suspected cases since Tuesday (January 28), four have already been discharged as they were tested negative of 2019-nCoV.

The other 16 PUIs are still under hospital confinement pending screening results from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) for potential symptoms of 2019-nCoV.

The DOH is also still waiting for the confirmatory results of the blood samples sent to a hospital in Melbourne, Australia for the six other patients.

Meanwhile, the DOH Epidemiology Bureau explained that the rate of infectivity of 2019-nCoV at 3.8% is actually slower than measles one of the most contagious diseases in the world discovered so far.

The exact incubation period of novel coronavirus remains unknown but it was estimated to be roughly between one to 14 days.

Measles, on the other hand, is infectious in just two to four days from exposure.

The mortality rate of nCoV, likewise, remains low as compared to Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

“Measles’ infectivity rate is one person is to 18. Kakalat na. So this is just to show you this is much less,” Duque noted,

Meanwhile, World Health Organization (WHO) country Representative Dr. Radindra Abeyasinghe clarified that the agency recognizes the fast rate of infectivity of 2019-nCoV especially in China but it is not enough reason for the WHO Emergency Committee to declare a global health emergency.

“Our Director-General mentioned that he is prepared and willing to reconvene the committee at very short notice. We have also shared with you that all the information that is now coming out, we are sharing with the committee members so we are not waiting to convene the committee, the committee members are having access to all the evidence that is emerging,” Abeyasinghe said.

“At very short notice the Committee can be reconvened if WHO decides and Director-General decides that that’s necessary,” he added.

DOH Spokesperson Eric Domingo, in the meantime, said the Philippines need not send samples to the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory to determine a suspected nCoV case as the agency confirmed the arrival of the testing equipment from abroad.

“The reagents and the primers that were ordered by RITM have arrived in the country and they are now setting up the lab for this. Once the laboratory is set up within 48 hours, they will be able to start running the test for 2019 novel coronavirus in the Philippines,” Domingo assured.

As of this posting, the Philippines remains to have a ‘zero case’ of the novel coronavirus, the DOH concluded. MNP (with details from Aiko Miguel)

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