Foreigner at RITM now clear of MERS-CoV

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The 36-year-old foreigner earlier diagnosed with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) Coronavirus is already clear of the deadly virus, according to the health department.

Two succeeding tests on the patient yielded negative results, Health Spokesperson Lyndon Lee Suy said in a press briefing Friday, July 10.

The patient will be discharged from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) over the weekend, while his close contact – a 32-year-old female – will remain at the hospital to complete her 14-day quarantine period until July 18.

The foreigner from Finland had traveled from Saudi Arabia, passing by Dubai in the Middle East, before he arrived in the Philippines on June 19.

He traveled again between June 23 to 25 to Malaysia, then to Singapore, and back to Manila. The patient developed fever and cough 5 days after returning to the Philippines. He tested positive for the virus on July 4.

The health department on Friday said it has already tracked down another 112 contacts who will also be monitored until the end of a 14-day observation period.

"We're talking about [people on] the flight – none of them manifested any signs and symptoms," Lee Suy said.

WHO Representative in the Philippines Julie Hall commended the government for its quick response to the country's second MERS case.

"The government has moved very quickly....It's been a rapid, strong response so far," she added.

But the health department "cannot totally commit" yet that the Philippines is already MERS-free since it is still monitoring the foreigner's contacts.

The first MERS case diagnosed in the Philippines is a Filipina nurse from Saudi Arabia who tested positive for the virus in February. She was cleared a few weeks after.

MERS or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus is a fatal, influenza-like illness characterized by fever and cough, often with diarrhea. (READ: FAST FACTS: The MERS Coronavirus)

As of July 8, the World Health Organization reported 1,368 laboratory-confirmed cases of infections, 487 of which resulted in death, worldwide. – Rappler.com

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.

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