MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – The Philippines on Thursday, January 30, confirmed its first case of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
The Philippines' first 2019-nCoV patient is among the 29 people monitored by the Department of Health (DOH), Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a news briefing on Thursday. (WATCH: DOH updates on 2019 novel coronavirus)
Duque said the patient is a 38-year-old woman who traveled to the Philippines from Wuhan, China, via Hong Kong on January 21. She is currently in a government hospital, where she was admitted on January 25, but was no longer showing symptoms.
DOH Epidemiology Bureau Director Ferchito Avelino said authorities would check the establishments that she went to and trace employees she had been in contact with.
The samples from the Chinese woman was among the 6 sent to the Victorian Infectious Disease Reference Laboratory in Australia for testing earlier this week. The 5 others tested negative.
Succeeding tests for 2019-nCoV will now be done by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), as the DOH has already acquired the necessary test kit for the procedure, the results of which may be available within 24 hours of testing.
Wuhan is the epicenter of the outbreak that had claimed 170 lives in China and infected thousands of people in that country alone. Other confirmed cases have been reported in several countries. (READ: ’Novel coronavirus’ or 2019 nCoV: What we know so far)
Travel to and from Wuhan had been restricted, as the government halted the issuance of visas to travelers from Hubei province.
Duque said on Thursday that he would recommend that travel restrictions be expanded in light of the first confirmed case. The Inter-agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases would meet on Friday, January 31, to discuss other government measures.
The Philippine health chief appealed for sobriety amid the country's first case of 2019-nCoV.
“I assure the public that the Department of Health is on top of this evolving situation. We were able to detect the first confirmed case because of our strong surveillance system, close coordination with the World Health Organization and other national agencies," he said.
"I advise the public to stay calm and be vigilant at all times," Duque added.
The 29 patients under investigation are in the following areas:
Of these patients, 23 were admitted in hospitals, 5 were discharged but remained under strict monitoring, while 1 died of pneumonia on Wednesday, January 29, at the San Lazaro Hospital but was still being tested for the 2019-nCoV virus.
Health officials reminded the public to practice proper hygiene and constant washing of hands, as well as proper coughing etiquette or coughing into the crook of the elbow, amid the virus scare. They also reassured the public that DOH hospitals, with their respective isolation areas, were ready to respond to the disease. – Rappler.com