The Department of Health (DOH) has allayed public fears following a report on a suspected case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection in Laguna.
A male patient suspected to have MERS-CoV infection was brought to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Muntinlupa on Wednesday morning.
A source told UNTV News and Rescue that the patient is an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) who arrived in the Philippines on February 14 from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
He was first rushed to the Laguna Doctors Hospital in Sta. Cruz, Lauguna on February 19 after complaining of cough and high fever. He was immediately transferred to the RITM for further analysis and observation.
MERS, also known as camel flu, is a viral respiratory infection caused by a novel CoronaVirus (CoV). Its symptoms may range from mild to severe fever, cough, chills, vomiting or diarrhea and shortness of breath. It was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012.
DOH said the situation is under control and that the patient has been placed on isolation and is being monitored closely.
DOH Media Relations Officer 3 Glen Ramos also told reporters that the case is yet to be confirmed as MERS-CoV, although the patient has manifested its symptoms.
“One cannot just say it is suspected MERS. Usual manifestations [of the disease] include meningo, high fever. The patient came from the Middle East that is why they say it’s MERS. But the RESU has not reported to us that it is suspected MERS,” Ramos explained.
The emergency room of the Laguna Doctors Hospital, where the patient was first rushed, has been closed temporarily for decontamination.
Medical personnel who had interaction with the patient were also required to stay in the hospital for now to undergo observation.
Ramos, however, clarified that the virus is not easily transmitted.
“There must be close contact for transmission, such as sex with an individual with MERS, also through body fluid,” Ramos explained.
The patient is currently undergoing medical examinations at the RITM and laboratory results may be out within two or three days.
Meanwhile, the RITM-DOH urged the public to refrain from disseminating unverified information about the said case where it can easily be taken out of context and add to the growing public concern.
In a statement posted on its twitter account, the agency also advised the public to wait for official announcements from the DOH.
“The patient suspected for MERS-CoV is still under investigation and testing. Results will be confirmed once the laboratory tests and procedures are finished. We encourage the public to wait for the official announcement from the Department of Health,” the statement read. – Robie de Guzman (with reports from Sherwin Culubong)
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