16 new COVID-19 cases, total now 49 in PH—DOH

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The Department of Health (DOH) revealed on Wednesday that there were 16 new confirmed cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the Philippines bringing the total to 49.

During a press briefing, Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said health authorities were tracing the contacts of the confirmed cases.

Vergeire said eight of the 49 cases, including two repatriates from the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship, were in stable condition at various hospitals across the country.

She also announced that 442 out of the 445 repatriates from Japan quarantined at the Athlete’s Village in New Clark City in Capaz, Tarlac, were already sent off by the Department of Health (DOH) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). Out of the 442 persons released from quarantine, 437 were crew members while five were passengers.

Patient 29, an 82-year-old Filipino woman, is currently intubated as she has underlying cardiovascular and endocrine problems.

She was exposed to Patient 9, an 86-year-old American male residing in Marikina City.

There are 31 possible COVID-19 cases still pending confirmation while 68 persons under investigation are still confined at various hospitals across the country, the DOH’s online case tracker said.

The Philippines marked a sudden surge in COVID-19 infections on Monday after cases doubled to 20 overnight, a development that Vergeire attributed to the DOH’s improved surveillance system.

Classes in Metro Manila remain suspended until March 15, after a pronouncement by President Rodrigo Duterte aimed at containing the spread of the virus.

Earlier in the day, a Malacañang official announced that state health insurer PhilHealth would shoulder the cost of COVID-19 testing fees on top of coverage of quarantine and isolation costs.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said in a report that “most people infected with COVID-19 virus have mild disease and recover,” with an estimated 80 percent developing mild to moderate disease, 13.8 percent having severe disease, and 6.1 percent deteriorating to critical condition.

From the beginning, she said the DOH was aware of the risk that some of our repatriates might teat positive for COVID-19.

“This is why certain infection and prevention control measures  were enforced during the quarantine period to protect our kababayans and the health workers attending  to them,” said Health Sec. Francisco Duque III.

DOH Hospitals from NCR, Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Cordillera Administrative Region, and Bicol Region also deployed additional health workers to help monitor and care for the almost 500 repatriates.

“We commend the health workers who have been tirelessly caring for our repatriates for the past month. First, those from Wuhan, and now those from Japan. Their dedication to their work and their countrymen is truly inspiring,” Duque added.

He related that the DOH and deployed surveillance teams are now conducting extensive information-gathering and contact tracing activities on the new cases. DOH will provide further details as soon as the information is available./Stacy Ang

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