MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday said it is monitoring the case of a five-year old boy with a history of travel to Wuhan, China for manifesting flu-like symptoms.
The child, who arrived in Cebu with his mother on January 12, was admitted in a hospital in Central Visayas after he manifested symptoms of respiratory illness such as fever, throat irritation and cough prior to entering the Philippines.
The DOH said the young boy is now in stable condition but still had cough.
Based on samples examined by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), the unnamed child tested negative for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Both diseases are caused by a family of viruses called coronavirus.
But he tested positive for a non-specific pancoronavirus assay, meaning that he is infected with a strain of coronavirus. The sample has been sent to a laboratory in Australia for further testing.
The DOH said the child will remain “a person under investigation” until they could get confirmatory results.
The Bureau of Quarantine is carrying out tracing of air passengers who may have come in contact with the boy during transit.
“We are reminding the airlines that the universal protective kit should be available anytime on board, the passenger locator card, the protocol on handling cases on board and of course reporting of cases on board to the ground crew,” Bureau of Quarantine director, Dr. Ferdinand Salcedo said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said novel coronavirus causes respiratory infections which may develop into severe cases such as pneumonia, acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and death if left untreated.
Coronavirus, which is a large group of viruses common among animals, may be transmitted through contact with an infected person.
“We are not sure of the source of the virus whether it came from animal or meat and other source. We believe that maybe human-to-human transmission,” WHO Country Representative Rabindra Abeyasinghe said.
The DOH said they are also monitoring three other individuals who manifested flu-like symptoms upon their arrival at the Kalibo International Airport.
The agency said all three travelers, reportedly Chinese nationals, are currently well and are no longer exhibiting any symptoms.
All hospitals and medical facilities in the country have been alerted about cases of coronavirus.
The WHO said there are 222 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus – majority of them are from China while others were from Thailand, Japan and South Korea.
The new strain of coronavirus was first reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019.
The DOH advised the public to always practice frequent handwashing, avoid crowded places and contact with infected person and to thoroughly cook food, especially meat and dairy products. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)
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