The Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed on Saturday a new case of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to six.
The latest case is the wife of a patient previously confirmed to have tested positive for COVID-19 who has no recent travel history, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said during a press briefing.
“The DOH also reports that the patient’s wife tested positive for COVID-19 after contact tracing activities were prompted,” Duque said.
“This brings the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country to six,” Duque also said.
The sixth confirmed case of COVID-19 is a 59-year-old female who presented with cough and was admitted at the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM) on March 5.
Duque likewise has confirmed that the previously reported fifth case of COVID-19 is the first case of local transmission in the country.
The patient has had no recent travel history, based on information from the Bureau of Immigration (BI).
The World Health Organization (WHO) has earlier said the fifth confirmed COVID-19 patient is already a case of local transmission.
The DOH also said it has raised the Code Red Sub-level 1 alert.
“With this Code Red, the DOH has recommended to the Office of the President for the declaration of public health emergency which will facilitate mobilization of resources and ease processes, including procurement of critical logistics and supplies and intensifying reporting and quarantine measures,” Duque said.
Duque said the DOH is doing all it can to identify all those who may have come into contact with the confirmed COVID-19 patients.
“The DOH is currently exhausting all its efforts to identify others who may have come in contact with the confirmed cases to ensure that these localized transmission does not progress to community spread,” Duque said.
Meanwhile, in a related development, the 62-year-old man considered as the Philippines’ fifth case of the COVID-19 is in critical condition, a health official said Saturday.
The patient, who tested positive for the illness on March 5, is suffering from severe pneumonia, said Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) director Dr. Celia Carlos.
“He is in a guarded condition because he still has severe pneumonia and other medical problems, like diabetes and hypertension,” Carlos said in a press briefing.
The man, considered the first localized transmission of the illness in the country, also suffers from acute kidney injuries.
“On the other hand, his oxygen requirement is less, and the need for drugs to elevate his blood pressure is also less. So there are good developments, as well as bad developments,” Carlos added.
The man is confined at the state-run RITM in Alabang, Muntinlupa City.
Duque, during the press briefing, clarified that a guarded condition also meant being critical.
The recovery of patients in critical condition is slow, he added.
“Based on the experience, the clinical condition on severe cases as reported in China, it takes a very long time for them to recover from 3 to 6 weeks when critical. If mild, it’s about 2 to 3 weeks,” Duque said.
The fifth patient regularly visited a Muslim prayer hall in San Juan. He experienced coughing last Feb. 25 and was admitted at Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan City on March 1 with severe pneumonia.
On the other hand, St. Luke’s Medical Center revealed it has isolated the COVID-19-positive patient when brought to the hospital’s emergency wing.
“St. Luke’s Medical Center – Global City was able to identify, isolate, and screen a patient at the isolation room located outside the emergency wing who turned out positive for COVID-19,” St. Luke’s said in a statement on Saturday.
The hospital said the DOH had the patient transferred and admitted to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).
“Fortunately, the patient was identified right away and exposure was limited as he did not enter the main hospital premises and main emergency room,” SLMC said.
It added that the medical facility is “equipped to handle and contain such cases.”
“We have taken all necessary measures to ensure the safety and care of all our patients and healthcare workers following a protocol set by our infectious disease specialists,” SLMC said.
As of Friday, the number of people infected with the new coronavirus surpassed 100,000 worldwide./Stacy Ang