DOH: Philippines is still MERS-CoV free

by Maria Aleta Nieva Nishimori,

Posted at Sep 05 2014 12:37 PM | Updated as of Sep 05 2014 08:37 PM

MANILA – The Filipina nurse earlier reported to be positive for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (MERS-CoV) has been cleared from the virus, the health department announced on Friday.

"The patient was negative talaga," said Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy, spokesperson of the DOH.

Suy was referring to the test done on a Filipina nurse who initially tested positive for MERS-Cov in Saudi Arabia. The nurse recently arrived in the country.

This prompted the DOH to immediately conduct contact tracing on all passengers who were on the same flight as the Pinay nurse, as well as those who may have been in contact with her upon her arrival.

But with the new development, Suy said the nurse will be discharged today.

With that, Suy added that all activities done by the government in relation to MERS-CoV-- like contact tracing—will be terminated.

"Pag tanggap naman ng official result--whether positive or negative--doon magkakaroon ng next decision point. Ito negative siya, ang decision point dito i terminate na lahat ng activity because there is no risk of transmission because there is no infection to be transmitted or any virus na mata-transmit," he explained.

"We can safely say that as of now, the Philippines remains to be MERS-CoV free," he said.

Rumor surveillance

Suy explained that the report that the Pinay nurse tested positive for MERS-CoV came from Saudi Arabia.

"May nagsabi. May nag-report lang. We call that technically, rumor surveillance, may ganung term," he said.

He explained that the government acted proactively on the issue.

"In any other instance, kapag nakatanggap tayo ng report na may positive while waiting for the actual result talaga, the government needs to do some action and it needs to look for those who were onboard as well kailangang umpisahan na yung investigation," he said.

He said they learned of the official test result from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine only yesterday.

Although it caused an alarm, the DOH official said the important thing was that it tested how fast and prompt the government's response was.

Since the DOH's press conference last Wednesday, it was able to contact and coordinate with about 70 to 80 people who were on the same flight as the Pinay nurse.