The Philippines has yet to confirm a positive case for a Filipino infected with the deadly 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), amid the increasing number of Patients Under Investigation (PUIs) which soared to 80 and the first death outside China reported in the Philippines.

During a press conference, Health Secreary Francisco Duque III categorically stated that it’s very clear that the one who died is from China.

The World Health OrganIzation (WHO) on Sunday announced the death of a 44-year old Chinese man who was admitted and isolated at San Lazaro Hospital in Sta. Cruz, Manila. The Chinese developed severe pneumonia which caused his death.

“Because of this, he said the death was included in the statistics of China and not the Philippines and not ours,” said Duque noting there is still no local transmission in the country of the disease.

Duque also reporred that of the 80 PUIs, 67 are currently admitted and isolated, while 10 have been discharged under strict monitoring.

Duque said the DOH has also reported one PUI mortality, a 29-year old Chinese man who was among those beingmonitored for the new coronavirus who died of complications due to pneumonia. He was found negative of the dreaded virus.

He also said the there was one death, the Chinese man who came from Wuhan. He travelled to the Philippines January 21 with the 38-year old Chinese woman, one of the two confirmed cases.

The Chinese woman , who came from Wuhan – the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak, has already traveled to Cebu and Dumaguete before he sought treatment for her mild cough in Manila.

According to Duque, the substantial increase in the number of PUIs is due to the strengthened surveillance system and contact tracing of the Epidemiology Bureau.

“We have also expanded the PUI category coverage to the whole of China, following the recent imposition of travel ban to the mainland China, including Hong Kong and Macau,” Duque said.

He said the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) has also confirmed that 30 PUIs have tested negative for 2019-nCoV, while 2 have tested positive, and 48 results are pending.

For her part, Senator Grace Poe said “up-to-date, transparent and correct information about the nCoV virus is vital.”

“It is important to have a daily official bulletin that will provide our people with the latest information about the virus,” said Poe.

“We also need to sustain a massive information campaign to let the public know how to prevent getting the virus, when to undergo quarantine, where to go for check-up and what to do in case one has contact with a suspected case,” said Poe.

Poe said this can be through brochures, comics, electronic billboards, or online, among others.

“Arming the people with the right information will not leave any space for fake news, misinformation and speculations, which, if left unchecked, can spread like a deadly virus,” Poe said.

The Interagency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases is set to meet with President Rodrigo Duterte this afternoon, together with other government agencies and resource persons, to discuss developments and next steps on the management of 2019-nCoV in the country.

At the same time, Duque renewed his reminders to the public to practice prevention measures such as proper handwashing, observance of cough etiquette, and maintaining healthy lifestyles for added resistance against infections.

Meanwhile, DOH-Epidemiology Bureau director Dr. Chito Avelino related that eight out of the over 70 persons tracked down by the DOH for having been in contact with Chinese couple infected with the new coronavirus are exhibiting symptoms of coughs and colds during contadt tracing.

Avelino said that the DOH was able to trace a total of 74 persons who had been at close range to the Chinese couple infected with the novel coronavirus. The couple reportedly travelled to the cities of Cebu and Dumaguete.

He said they were immediately advised in what to do with regards to home quarantine. He clarified that home quarantine is similar to isolation inside a house. This means they have no right to interact sith family members while under quarantine for 14 days.

Avelino did not mention the exact whereabouts of the said persons./ STACY ANG

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