DOH: Only 2 under MERS-CoV check

Jee Y. Geronimo
DOH: Only 2 under MERS-CoV check
One of the Filipina nurse's co-passengers in a February 1 flight from Saudi Arabia will go through another round of tests as per protocol. He initially tested negative for MERS.

MANILA, Philippines – Aside from the Filipina nurse with MERS Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), one of her co-passengers in a February 1 flight from Saudi Arabia still has to go through another round of tests to confirm he is indeed negative for the deadly virus.

Contact tracing of the 220 passengers of Saudia flight 860 was terminated Sunday, February 15, as the 14-day incubation period ended. Only 126 co-passengers were tracked by the health department. 

Two of those passengers are still confined at another hospital, Health Spokesperson Lyndon Lee Suy said on Tuesday, February 17. One already tested negative in all the MERS-CoV tests, while the other will go through another round of tests as per protocol.

Meanwhile, at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), the nurse continues to test positive for the virus.

“She’s in stable condition. Binabantayan [namin siya]. [Ang] indicator when to discharge is ‘pag nag-negative na ang laboratory tests na ginagawa sa kanya,” Lee Suy explained.

(She’s in stable condition. We are monitoring her. The indicator when to discharge her is when all her laboratory tests yield negative results.)

After the nurse arrived in Manila on February 1, she went through 3 initial tests for MERS-CoV, all with positive results. (READ: Filipina nurse from Saudi tests positive for MERS-CoV)

Already 4 to 5 weeks into her pregnancy, the nurse has a weaker immune system to fight MERS or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, a fatal, influenza-like illness characterized by fever, cough, and often with diarrhea. (READ: FAST FACTS: The MERS Coronavirus)

As of February 16, the World Health Organization reported 983 laboratory-confirmed cases of infections, 360 of which resulted in death, worldwide.

CHECKLIST. Passengers arriving in the Philippines fill-up this health checklist. Photo by Jee Geronimo/Rappler

Lee Suy said one of the nurse’s close contact has pneumonia, not MERS-CoV. The health personnel from Evangelista Medical Specialty Hospital will stay at RITM until he recovers. Disinfection of the hospital is still ongoing.

Due to past experiences with MERS, Lee Suy said the Philippines is in a better position to face the deadly virus, although there is “always for improvement.”

Umaapila uli kami sa ating mga kababayan na umuuwi sa Pilipinas (We appeal to our fellow Filipinos who are coming home). Please fill out the health declaration checklist properly,” he added. –


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Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.