Health Department wants travelers screened for mysterious pneumonia strain from China

The Department of Health yesterday ordered the tighter screening of travelers arriving in the country from overseas amid reports of a mysterious strain of pneumonia in Wuhan, China.

Forty-four Chinese patients have been found to be suffering from the disease, with 11 of them in critical condition. Health authorities in China initially believed that the disease was the deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, but that proved not to be the case. Investigations are still ongoing, the BBC reports.

The outbreak has led Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to tell travelers from China to seek help from medical professionals if they are ill.

“I urge the public, especially those with history of travel from China, to seek immediate medical consult if experiencing any flu-like symptoms,” Duque said in a statement sent to the media. “Let us also embrace healthy lifestyles, practice proper hand hygiene, and observe cough etiquette to prevent transmission of respiratory infections.”

The Bureau of Quarantine is currently on high alert and has been checking if travelers manifest signs of respiratory infection, according to Rappler.

The disease was first reported in Wuhan on Dec. 24. The number of patients rose quickly, with the disease spreading to Hong Kong, where a total of 16 suspected cases had been reported as of yesterday, according to the BBC. By Sunday, Singapore had reported its first patient, a 3-year-old girl who had traveled to Wuhan. She remains in stable condition, Bloomberg reports.

The World Health Organization is monitoring the case, and is communicating with its counterparts in Wuhan.

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