MANILA, Philippines – One of the close contacts of the 36-year-old foreigner diagnosed with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) Coronavirus has tested negative for the deadly virus.
The close contact was also admitted to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) after she started coughing.
"Puwede na siyang tanggalin ngayon sa negative pressure room, balik na siya sa regular ward, [pero] oobserbahan namin for 14 days," Health Spokesperson Lyndon Lee Suy told reporters on Tuesday, July 7.
(We can already transfer her from the negative pressure room to the regular ward, but we will continue to observe her for 14 days.)
The other 7 close contacts – all Filipino adults – are under home quarantine and will be monitored until the end of the 14-day incubation period.
Meanwhile, the foreigner who tested positive for MERS on July 4 is in stable condition. With his low viral load, Lee Suy said the chances of the patient spreading the virus is very low.
But he will only be discharged after two succeeding tests yield negative results. Testing is done by RITM every other day.
The health department has also narrowed down its contact tracing of the 200 passengers who were on the same flight as the patient. He had traveled from Saudi Arabia, passing by Dubai in the Middle East, before he arrived in the Philippines.
Since the incubation period is almost over, Lee Suy said they are prioritizing the tracking down of co-passengers who were seated near the patient – 3 rows in front, 3 rows at the back, and 3 rows at the side.
The foreigner, whose name and nationality were withheld, is the second confirmed MERS case in the country, after a Filipina nurse from Saudi Arabia tested positive for the virus in February. She was cleared a few weeks after.
MERS is a fatal, influenza-like illness characterized by fever and cough, often with diarrhea. (READ: FAST FACTS: The MERS Coronavirus)
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.