Possible SARS-like virus now in RP? Duque explains

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A week ago, a 5-year old boy from Wuhan China arrived in the Philippines showing signs of being infected with the new version of the corona virus now spreading like wildfire in China. The new adaptation of the corona virus exhibits acute similarities with the SARS or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome virus which killed 650 people in mainland China and Hongkong.

Aside from the boy, four more Chinese nationals who arrived at the Kalibo International airport are being closely monitored as well as people “four seats away” from the child. Health authorities say the virus can be spread either thru air or thru exchange of bodily fluids.

Health secretary Francisco Duque says more cases are being documented in the mainland particularly in Wuhan where the child came from. Other cases sprouted in Thailand, Japan and South Korea. World Health Organization (WHO) reported that at least six had already died due to the novel corona virus outbreak.

The child is now in an undisclosed hospital in Cebu City. While he is now in stable condition and without showing signs of having a fever, health authorities are still subjecting the child to numerous checks and samples of his blood as well as other bodily fluids were already shipped to Australia to determine the type of virus the child carries.

Dr. Ferchito Avelino, director of the DOH Epidemiology Bureau, said there were six known strains of the coronavirus, including MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV.

The boy could have one of the four strains of coronavirus or possibly having a totally new strain, Avelino says. “In simple words, the test shows that there is coronavirus, it’s not MERS-CoV, it’s not SARS-CoV. We still do not know what it is,” said Domingo.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses ranging from the common cold to more serious and more lethal strains such as MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. Symptoms of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, breathing difficulties, shortness of breath and in severe cases, pneumonia, acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and death.

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