MANILA, Philippines — Health Sec. Francisco Duque on Wednesday said the Philippines remains free from the 2019 novel corona virus, (2019-nCoV), the SARS-like virus.
During the “Kapihan sa Manila Bay” on Wednesday, Duque clarified there is yet no case of the 2019-nCoV in the country.
Presently, the Department of Health (DOH) is investigating a 5-year old Chinese boy on the possibility of being afflicted with 2019-nCoV.
The World Health Organization (WHO) earlier said it is still “too early” to panic over this epidemic, even as the new virus has reportedly killed four people in China and made people sick in three other Asian countries- Japan, South Korea and Thailand.
Duque said the boy’s mother, who arrived with him in the Philippines on January 12 to learn English, did not manifest any symptoms and was negative of the new virus based on the tests done on her.
Because of this, Duque also raised the possibility that the young boy was not hit with the novel coronavirus.
Duque said they are still awaiting the results of the laboratory tests from Australia of throat samples taken from the boy.
Results of the samples from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Muntinlupa City yielded negative for MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-related Coronavirus) and SARS-CoV (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-related Coronavirus while positive for non-specific pancorona virus.
Duque said doctors and nurses who attended to the young boy have also been placed in isolation as part of the protocol.
Duque also said there is still no need for contact tracing of individuals who came in contact with the boy because it has not yet been confirmed if he was afflicted with the 2019-nCoV.
Duque also reminded the public about the importance of proper hygiene. He underscored the need for proper hand washing to prevent the spread of the disease. In washing hands, it should last for at least 20 seconds.
He also advised the public to use tissue or handkerchief when coughing or sneezing.
In confined spaces like an elevator, one should avoid inhaling in the presence of a coughing person.
Meanwhile, WHO Representative to the Philippines Rabindra Aheyasinghe said “it’s too early to say that it is a very severe infection that causes death.”
“We are in the early stages of trying to understand how severe this infection is and how many deaths it is likely to cause,” he said.
“Much remains unknown about the virus, including the mode of transmission and severity,” said Aheyasinghe.
Duque also said still no need for travel restrictions of our people going to China, particularly in Wuhan, where the virus originated.
However, Duque reminded them to be very cautious in going to places where there victims of the new virus.
“This is an issue being addressed but WHO if there will be travel restriction. It’s not just about the countries… incoming passengers will be restricted if there’s travel restriction. In the country of origin, they should bar their residents from going out of their country. That is being discussed and studied. It’s giving undue anxities to our people,” said Duque. (STACY ANG/IAMIGO/Currentph.com)