Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Thursday confirmed a 38-year-old Chinese female is the first case of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCov) in the country.
In a press briefing, Duque said the laboratory results of the patient arrived on Thursday from the Victorian Infectious Disease Reference Laboratory in Melbourne, Australia
“The confirmed case arrived in the Philippines from Wuhan, China via Hong Kong last Jan. 21, 2020. The patient sought to consult and was admitted to one of the country’s government hospitals last January 25 after experiencing mild cough,” Duque added.
Duque reported that the patient is “currently asymptomatic with no fever and no signs and symptoms of any illness”.
Citing that the first nCov case in the country has been detected because of the Department of Health (DOH)’s strong surveillance, Duque assured the public that DOH is on top of the situation and is in close coordination with the other government agencies and the World Health Organization.
“We are working closely with the hospital where the patient is admitted and have activated the Incident Command System of the said hospital for appropriate management, specifically infection control, case management, and containment. We’re also implementing measures to protect health staff providing care to those patients,” he added.
To date, the DOH has recorded a total of 29 persons under investigation (PUIs) – 18 in Metro Manila, four in Central Visayas, one in Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan), one in Eastern Visayas, one in Northern Mindanao, and one in Davao.
Of the total number, 23 PUIs are currently admitted, five have been discharged but are still under strict monitoring and one mortality.
“The DOH is also in close coordination with the Inter-agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases which includes representatives from departments of foreign affairs, interior and local government, labor and employment, tourism, transportation, and information technology,” Duque said.
Duque added that the task force will convene a high-level meeting on January 31 to discuss the first confirmed nCov case in the country and other developments on the case.
Duque assured the public that the DOH’s health facilities are equipped and prepared to receive and care for PUIs and confirmed 2019-nCov cases.
“The Bureau of Quarantine remains on high alert and is in constant coordination with authorities from all ports of entries for stricter surveillance,” he said.
Meanwhile, DOH Epidemiology Bureau director Ferchito Avelino said they have already requested for the flight details of the patient.
“Kung saan pumunta, tinitingnan na natin ‘yun (The places she’s been to, we’ll check on them). We’re looking at the places they have been to in Cebu and Dumaguete as part of the contact tracing,” Avelino said.
Avelino added that they will apply the “rule of four” once they are able to get the patient’s flight details.
“We need to identify the four passengers in front, four passengers at the back, four passengers at both sides, and we’ll contact these passengers and advise them accordingly. For the community, we’re looking at the establishment where they stayed and advise the establishment owners to identify the employees that have been in contact with the patient and do the mandatory quarantine,” he said. (PNA)