First coronavirus case confirmed in the Eastern Visayas

CEBU, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Department of Health (DOH) in the Eastern Visayas confirmed its first positive coronavirus case in a press conference on Monday, March 23.

The patient is a 51-year old Filipino female from Catarman, Northern Samar, and was categorized as a person under investigation (PUI) – someone who was exhibiting influenza-like symptoms and traveled to areas where the virus was present.

The patient arrived in Manila from Japan on January 2 and came to Samar on March 3, when she started showing symptoms, Department of Health-Center for Health Development (DOH-CHD) Regional Director Dr. Minerva P. Molon said.

Molon assured the public the DOH was taking action to trace the contacts of the patient. Measures were also taken to protect the health staff who attended to her.

"We assure the public that the DOH (Eastern Visayas)  is on top of the situation," Molon said. "With the laboratory result of the first confirmed case, we are able to manage the patient who had greatly improved and is now recovering. A team has been sent to the area to conduct contact tracing," she added.

To stop local transmission, Molon said that "symptomatic contact will be isolated and samples collected." 

She was admitted to intensive care on March 12 and was scheduled to be discharged on Monday, March 23, when her results from the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine in Manila came back positive.

"She would have been discharged today had the result been negative," said Molon. 

New samples will be collected from the patient. She will need to test negative for coronavirus two consecutive times before she may be discharged. 

Leyte and southern Leyte were also placed on community quarantine on March 18. (READ: Leyte placed under community quarantine)

According to Molon, there are a total of 237 PUIs in the Eastern Visayas. Northern Samar has the most number of PUIs at 59. 

As of this posting, there are now 462 confirmed novel coronavirus cases in the country. 

– with reports from Jessica Alvero, Ryan Macasero and Jazmin Bonifacio/Rappler.com