Stay vigilant vs novel coronavirus, PHO-Aklan urges public

AKLAN, Philippines – A 24-year old international flight attendant who has fever and cough was admitted in Aklan provincial hospital for 'self-quarantine' on Tuesday, January 21 in Kalibo, Aklan. 

This, according to Provincial Health Officer I Dr. Cornelio Cuachon, Jr., was the 4th patient assessed by attending doctors for novel coronavirus infection

The flight attendant from Cavite province consulted a private physician in Kalibo a day after the patient manifested flu-like symptoms.  

"The walk-in patient has history of travel from Wuhan, China. She was referred  to Aklan provincial hospital by the private physician for self-quarantine, for admission and under observation by doctors. She is doing well," Cuachon said at a press briefing on January 22 in Kalibo, Aklan. 

The Provincial Health Office (PHO-Aklan) urged the public to stay vigilant against the threat of novel coronavirus infection. (READ: Duque: Still many blindspots in ‘novel coronavirus’)

Authorities in Aklan are enhancing the protocols on handling cases and surveillance of travellers coming in from mainland China to protect public health as the PHO-Aklan and Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) are "closely watching all airports and seaports for the mysterious disease from China."

A novel coronavirus is causing an outbreak of pneumonia illness in the city of Wuhan, Hubei province, China which has the potential to cause severe disease and death.

Contrary to media reports, the 3 Boracay-bound Chinese tourists referred at Dr. Rafael S. Tumbokon Memorial Hospital (DRSTMH) in Kalibo, Aklan by BOQ were all assessed by attending doctors for testing and evaluation.

A 29-year old female Chinese tourist was brought to the Aklan provincial hospital after experiencing flu-like symptoms on arrival at Kalibo International Airport from Nanjing, China at around 9:30 pm on January 17.  

"The victim did not manifest any fever and no difficulty of breathing the following day. She was discharged by attending physicians at around 1:30 pm after sample specimen was collected from her," Cuachon said.

Last January 18, a three-year old girl from China was also taken to the Aklan provincial hospital for manifesting symptoms like cough, colds, and fever. A 65-year old Chinese man who arrived in Kalibo with cough and colds on January 20 was also brought to Aklan hospital.  

On the same day, they were treated as outpatients after their examinations.

Cuachon said the blood and other specimen samples of patients were transported to the Department of Health (DOH) regional office in Iloilo City for confirmatory tests with the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine  (RITM) in Metro Manila. 

"All 3 Chinese nationals have no recent history of travel from Wuhan. After their trip from Boracay, they are advised to secure medical clearance from DRSTMH. If the results from RITM yield positive, we conduct intensive contact tracing activities to control the risk of transmission of coronaviruses," he added.

Cuachon also reminded the public to observe proper cough etiquette, wear protective masks, avoid sick people and practice frequent handwashing.

Meanwhile, Kalibo airport  quarantine officers are using handheld thermal scanners to check the body temperature of incoming international travellers with direct regional flights from China, Korea, and Taiwan.

Airports in Aklan are also on heightened surveillance status against the novel coronavirus. 

Kalibo averages 30 international flights daily, mostly from the provinces of Wuhan, Shendou, and Nanjing in mainland China.  

More than 430,000 Chinese tourists also visited Boracay Island last year. – Rappler.com