MANILA, Philippines – Health Secretary Francsico Duque III said it is premature to assume that the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) crisis is stabilizing as “blindspots continue to characterize the virus.”
The health chief said this during a Malacañang press briefing on Friday, February 14, discussing the government’s preparedness to respond to the disease, which has killed 1,383 people and infected over 64,400 others, mainly in China.
Answering questions about whether there are signs that the situation could be stabilizing, Duque said, “I don’t want to be a killjoy, but it’s premature. We’ve seen some initial trending that it’s not consistent. We have to wait for more data to come in and to establish a trending that’s more consistent, whether it’s plateauing or going down. Still, the situation remains fluid.”
For this, the DOH relies on regular risk assessment reports from the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN agency working closely with Chinese authorities to establish more facts about the new virus and the disease it causes. For instance, there are still no conclusive reports to say that 2019-nCoV transmission could be airborne.
“Blindspots here continue to characterize this virus and the efforts to familiarize ourselves with this virus is ongoing. Science has never been more active than it is today precisely to continue to characterize the very granular aspects of this virus,” the health chief added.
According to a February 10 Agence France-Presse report, the WHO said there were “tentative signs the epidemic (was) stabilizing” but that there might “be more infections abroad in people who have never traveled to China.”
So far, local transmission of 2019-nCoV has been reported in Singapore, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Germany, France, Vietnam, South Korea, and Australia. There is no local transmission yet in the Philippines, but Duque said that the government is treating it as a possibility in the Philippines.
455 patients probed
The health department has so far probed 455 patients for 2019-nCoV in the Philippines as of February 14. Of the 455, 191 remain admitted in hospitals across the country, while 258 have been discharged.
Of the accumulated total of 455, 386 patients have already tested negative for the virus while 66 cases are still pending test results.
The DOH on Friday also announced another death of a patient under investigation, but confirmed that the new fatality died due to cardiovascular attack and in fact tested negative for the virus.
According to the DOH, the patient, a 71-year-old Filipino from La Union who had a history of travel to Taiwan, was admitted to the hospital after “manifesting with coughs.” He died Thursday night, February 13.
Two other patients being probed for possible 2019-nCoV infection have died from other illnesses. All 3 fatalities subsequently tested negative for 2019-nCoV.
So far, the Philippines has confirmed 3 cases of 2019-nCoV in the country. One of them died after developing severe pneumonia due to the virus, but the other two recovered from the respiratory disease and have since been discharged from the hospital. – Rappler.com