MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Department of Health (DOH) said on Friday, January 31, that it was monitoring 31 patients for the 2019 novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV.
The latest number is up from the 29 people cited by the DOH on Thursday, January 30.
The DOH said the new patients, admitted to hospitals in Metro Manila and Eastern Visayas, were a Chinese and an American. They traveled separately and came from different regions in China, said Epidemiology Bureau Director Ferchito Avelino. (READ: ‘Novel coronavirus’ or 2019 nCoV: What we know so far)
Of the 31, 25 were admitted to hospitals, 5 had been discharged but were still being strictly monitored, and 1 – a man with a preexisting illness – died but it had yet to be determined if he also had 2019-nCoV.
The cases being investigated are in the following regions:
- Metro Manila – 19
- Mimaropa – 1
- Western Visayas – 3
- Eastern Visayas – 2
- Central Visayas – 4
- Northern Mindanao – 1
- Davao – 1
Health officials announced the latest number of PUIs a day after the Philippines confirmed its first case of 2019-nCoV, a 38-year-old woman who came from virus epicenter Wuhan and traveled to Cebu and Dumaguete before she was admitted to a government hospital in Manila to be isolated.
The DOH said it had begun contact tracing or tracking down people who were on the same flight as the patient Once identified, they would also be isolated and monitored.
The Philippines’ first nCoV patient took a Cebu Pacific flight from Hong Kong to Cebu, a CebGo flight from Cebu to Dumaguete, and a Philippine Airlines flight from Dumaguete to Manila, the DOH said. The DOH said the airlines were cooperating with them.
The DOH said it was also in the process of identifying people other people the patient might have interacted with. This would include finding personnel in hotels and other establishments that the patient went to and putting them under monitoring, but not isolation.
“We are doing this carefully so we may release the proper advice to the contacts. We don’t want them to hide,” epidemiology bureau head Avelino said.
Amid the scare, President Rodrigo Duterte banned travel from Wuhan City and the rest of Hubei province. The Department of Foreign Affairs also said it would repatriate Filipinos in Hubei starting next week.
The inter-agency task force headed by the DOH was set to meet on Friday to discuss a possible expansion of the travel ban to other regions in China with high incidences of the disease, especially after the World Health Organization declared an international emergency over the deadly novel coronavirus from China.
“What we want is to see the magnitude of cases in (other provinces)…. We’re thinking of setting it to at least 100 cases (before we impose a a ban),” said Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo, adding that they were coordinating with WHO for guidance on the matter.
Lawmakers had called for a travel ban on all of China and not just Hubei province amid fears of more cases reaching the Philippines.
As of early morning Friday, January 31, the virus has killed 212 people and infected over 8,000 people worldwide. – Rappler.com
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