PH confirms third nCoV case; observes 133 suspected infection

Marje Pelayo

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) confirmed on Thursday (February 6) the country’s third positive case of 2019 novel Coronavirus Acute Respiratory Disease (2019 nCoV-ARD).

The patient is a 60-year-old Chinese from Wuhan, China who boarded Cebu Pacific Flight 5J241 to the Philippines via Hong Kong.

Upon arrival, she went to Cebu on January 21 and on January 22, she was confined to private hospital in Bohol after experiencing fever and flu.

Meanwhile, the DOH said all persons who had contact with the Chinese woman showed no signs of nCoV infection.

The Department explained that the Chinese woman tested negative of nCoV based on the results of the test conducted on January 24 by the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory that was released on January 30.

However, the other sample that was tested on January 23 by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) revealed otherwise.

DOH clarified that there wasn’t any delay in tests.

“One week naman iyong pinalipas before the patient was discharged. So the patient was actually negative upon testing on January 24 kaya lang after na matapos lahat ng test dito, they decided to run all of the old samples that they had,” explained DOH Undersecretary Eric Domingo.

“One of her samples was from January 23 and earlier sample, so apparently ito iyong naging positive,” he added.

Domingo said the Chinese woman already recovered and has returned to China on January 31.

Contact tracing has been ongoing on individuals who had close contact with the woman including flight attendants, crew, health workers and those in the hotel where she stayed.

The DOH also has done a re-test on the samples of all persons under investigation (PUI) to make sure none of them are carriers of the virus.

All results were validated and tested negative of nCoV.

There are 133 patients under investigation for novel coronavirus infection in the Philippines, according to the DOH.

Of the PUIs, 63 are Filipinos and 54 are Chinese nationals – 32 of them have travel history in Wuhan, China.

“Iyong iba kasi iyong mga Filipinos natin ngayon most of them are travelers from Hong Kong before the ban,” explained Domingo.

Sixteen (16) PUIs were already discharged but still under DOH monitoring.

DOH maintained that there is no report of local transmission yet in the Philippines and given this development, it is not recommending a travel ban against countries with confirmed local transmission such as Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam.

“Ang pinakamalaki kasi talaga iyong more than 98% of the cases are still in China so even in the countries where there is human- to- human transmission so far it is still contained,” the DOH Spokesperson said.

“Wala pa namang country na lumagpas for example ng 10 cases so it might be premature,” he added.

Meanwhile, the DOH has accounted a total of 203 persons in close contact with the first two Chinese national who were positive of nCoV.

From the group, 15 showed signs of infection but only 14 of them volunteered for isolation while the other refused to be confined.

The DOH is calling on all travelers on board Cebu Pacific DG6519 from Cebu to Dumaguete on January 21 and Philippine Airlines Flight PR2542 Dumaguete to Manila on January 25 to coordinate with the agency.

The said flights were the ones taken by the Chinese couple who were the first two positive cases of nCoV in the country.  – MNP (with details from Aiko Miguel)

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