Duque confirms PH still corona virus free


MANILA — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III yesterday admitted he is frustrated because the World Health Organization (WHO) has not yet decided whether or not to declare a global health emergency after the outbreak of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019 nCoV) that so far killed 25 people.

“Honestly, I feel a bit frustrated with WHO because they’ve had meetings in the last two days, I don’t understand why they haven’t reached a consensus yet. Although, of course, they explained that they see more mild cases than serious cases,” Duque said.

On the other hand, Duque said there is no confirmed case yet of the virus in the Philippines.

WHO Representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said the committee is discussing the pros and cons of declaring the outbreak of the virus—first reported in Wuhan, China—as a public health emergency of international concern.

Abeyasinghe  said the declaration of the outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern would depend on the mortality rate among patients.

Abeyasinghe pointed out that most of the fatalities had pre-existing medical conditions.

“We are not clear of the new deaths that have been unofficially reported, so WHO is working with authorities in China to better understand whether this virus is causing the death in otherwise healthy people or it is more likely that it is causing death in people that have pre-existing medical condition,” said  Abeyasinghe.

The problem is that the virus causes respiratory infection.

With  the current flu season,  he noted that a lot of people may exhibit symptoms similar to the coronavirus infection like fever, cough, colds, and sore throat.

“So to determine if somebody is actually infected with this virus, you need a definitive test as we have seen in the case of the child (5-year old Chinese boy) that was detected in Cebu City in the Philippines,” said  the WHO official.

Duque said WHO met again Thursday so  he will check if there’s already a consensus  to declare a global health emergency.

He also said the WHO deliberations Wednesday were “inconclusive” but they are expecting some conclusions later today.

With the declaration of a global health emergency, Duque guaranteed the response to this novel coronavirus would be better as it will be coordinated and guidelines will be standardized.

Duque also said there is still no results on the throat samples of the Chinese boy who recently traveled from Wuhan to Cebu City. 

They are still awaiting the findings from his specimens sent to a laboratory in Melbourne, Australia, to determine if he was afflicted with the coronavirus that emerged in Whuan.

Earlier, the Chinese  boy was tested positive for “non-specific pancoronavirus assay.”

He also yielded negative results for SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. (Sa/ia)

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