5-year-old Chinese boy from Wuhan, China investigated in Cebu due to flu-like symptoms


Hong Kong activates serious response against the spread of the virus. (Photo courtesy of the Associated Press)

MANILA, Philippines — HEALTH Sec. Francisco Duque III on Tuesday revealed the Department of Health (DOH) is investigating a five-year old Chinese boy from Wuhan, China, whose samples were tested positive for the non-specific pancoronavirus.

In a news conference,  Duque said the boy came to the Philippines on  January 12 with his mother to learn the English language.

He said  that pancoronavirus simply represents a range of many coronaviruses.

“But of course in this case, there has been a definitive– for SARS-CoV (Severe Acute Respirqtory Syndrome-related Coronavirus and MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-related Coronavirus), both yielding negative.  But the pancoronavirus represents a group of viruses outside of SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV) which may cause from one end the common flu that we, you and i experienced all the way to the other end of the spectrum which is serious SARS and MERS-CoV,” Duque said.

Still, Duque  admitted “we don’t have the primer that would help them definitely identify which of these pancoronaviruses may have actually caused the signs and symptoms of  this 5-year old Chinese boy.”

Technically, Duque noted  the Chinese boy  is considered as PUI (Person Under Investigation) pending the results that is expected to come out from Melbourne, Australia  — Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory.

DOH Epidemiology Bureau Chief Dr. Chito Avelino said the young boy was immediately admitted and confined in a hospital at 6 pm after arriving in Cebu City three hours earlier.

Prior to entering the Philippines, DOH officials said the boy manifested fever, throat irritation, and cough.

The case was immediately reported to the Regional Epidemiology & Surveillance Unit of Central Visayas Center for Health Development and the child was endorsed for admission.

At present, the boy is still experiencing cough but is currently stable and not feverish.

Samples from the patient were first tested at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) and yielded negative results for MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV.

However, the samples tested positive for the non-specific pancoronavirus assay, thus the specimen has been sent to Australia to identify the specific coronavirus strain.

Duque said they are also  monitoring three individuals with flu-like symptoms upon entering the country via the Kalibo International Airport from China, but without any history of travel to Wuhan and without any known contact with a confirmed 2019 non coronavirus (2019-nCoV) case, Severe Acute Respiratory Illness case, or sick animals.

He said throat samples from these patients were already sent to RITM for testing. All three cases are currently well and are no longer manifesting any symptoms.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses ranging from the common cold to more serious infections such as MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. Common signs of coronavirus infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In severe cases, it can cause pneumonia, acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death.

On December 31, 2019, a clustering of pneumonia cases of unknown etiology was reported in Wuhan, China.   The outbreak was later determined to be caused by a 2019-nCoV, a new coronavirus strain that has not been previously identified in humans. (Stacy Ang/IAMIGO/Currentph.com)

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