Child in Cebu probed for new coronavirus tests negative

MANILA, Philippines – There is still no case of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the Philippines after the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed that the test results of a suspected case in Cebu City turned out negative. 

The DOH on Friday, January 24, said laboratory tests from the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory in Australia showed that the 5-year-old boy did not have 2019-nCoV, the virus that originated from Wuhan, China, and has so far killed 25 and sickened over 800 across the country and other states in Asia and North America. (READ: ’Novel coronavirus’ or 2019 nCoV: What we know so far)

The child, who had traveled to Cebu with his mother to study English, had been isolated in a hospital since January 12. He had initially manifested "pneumonia-like symptoms" like fever, coughs, colds, and chills but is currently no longer feverish, according to the DOH.  

The Philippines' Research Institute for Tropical Medicine had already ruled out the coronaviruses that cause SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) before sending the child's laboratory samples to the Australian institute.

They will have to run another test to rule out pancoronavirus before the child may be discharged from the hospital, the DOH said.  

The DOH remains on high alert as the death toll in China due to the virus rose on Friday. The health department said its Bureau of Quarantine is working closely with airlines and airport authorities to ensure stricter border surveillance.

The health department's emergency response has also been activated; the DOH is to coordinate with other agencies like the Department of the Interior and Local Government and its regional counterparts to cascade information regarding the virus and strengthen community engagement.  

The DOH is also calling on those with a history of travel to Wuhan, China, who are experiencing symptoms like fever and cough to immediately seek medical consult. Health facilities are equipped and health workers are on full alert, the DOH assured the public.  

Reports of the 2019-nCoV have revived fears of an outbreak akin to the SARS scare of 2003, which claimed over 800 lives in China and Hong Kong. (READ: What we learned from SARS, according to ex-DOH chief Manuel Dayrit)

In the Philippines, SARS claimed two deaths that year: a Filipino nursing assistant visiting from Canada, and her father, whom she had infected. A total of 14 cases were recorded in the country, making it the lowest count among 30 countries affected by the disease. – Rappler.com