Editorial: 2019-nCoV is in the country

A 38-year-old woman from Wuhan, China is the Philippines’ first confirmed case of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

She arrived last Jan. 21, 2020 and was admitted to one of the country’s government hospitals four days later after experiencing a mild cough.

As of Jan. 29, the Department of Health recorded a total of 29 persons under investigation (PUIs) for the 2019-nCoV.

Of the number, 18 are in Metro Manila, four in Central Visayas, three in Western Visayas, one in Mimaropa, one in Eastern Visayas, one in Northern Mindanao and one in Davao.

Twenty-three PUIs are currently admitted, while five are under strict monitoring after they were discharged.

There has been one fatality, but it remained unclear whether the death was caused by the 2019-nCoV since the patient was also found positive for HIV.

“I urge the public to stay calm and remain vigilant at all times. Let us continue to practice good personal hygiene and adopt healthy lifestyles,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said, assuring that they’ve taken precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

In China, the death toll rose to 170 as of 7:49 p.m. Thursday.

In Cebu City, Mayor Edgardo Labella continues to push for the ban on Chinese tourists, while Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia announced that she will issue an executive order placing travelers from China, including Hong Kong and Macau, under a 14-day quarantine.

The governor clarified that as chief executive, “she could not ban travelers as ‘this will have an implication on foreign relations which policy making rests solely on the power of the President as chief executive.’”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), people who are infected with the virus develop respiratory disease. Some of them may develop mild symptoms, which can range from a fever, a runny nose to a slight cough, but some may also develop pneumonia. In some patients, they can have very severe disease and die.

Transmission occurs through a respiratory route like a sneeze or a cough, mainly among close contact.

Since it is a novel coronavirus, meaning it is new, WHO officials admit they are still trying to find out more about the disease.

In other words, local officials who do not have a medical background and who do not have all the facts about the 2019-nCoV should refrain from releasing statements that confuse and alarm the public and incite anti-Chinese sentiments.