MANILA - The Department of Health (DOH) said the country is now monitoring only one Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) case since the three other suspected cases have turned out negative.
In a press conference, DOH spokesman Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy said one patient confined at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) together with the index or first case turned out to have pneumonia.
The index case, the pregnant Filipina nurse who arrived from the Middle East on February 1, is the only one confirmed case.
"Apparently, she’s on stable condition… She’s not showing signs of distress. We referred her case to the OB as well, to take care of her pregnancy," the spokesman said.
Fifty-six people were earlier identified to have had close contact with the Filipina nurse after being admitted at the Evangelista Medical Specialty Center in San Pedro, Laguna. While 11 were brought to the RITM, only one was left confined.
Of the other group, the passengers of the Saudi Airlines Flight 860, only two were confined at separate hospitals.
Lee Suy said the test result of one patient, described as “patient under investigation” for exhibiting symptoms, turned out negative.
He or she will need to do another test to totally clear him or her of the case.
The other patient, a “MERS-CoV suspect” was also cleared of the virus based on further tests.
“As of the moment, our status is only one MERS-CoV case,” Lee Suy said.
The contact-tracing for all the Saudi Airlines flight ended on Sunday, which means the incubation period for the virus has ended.
News of the confirmed case earlier brought fears among residents in San Pedro, Laguna.
DOH officials had to meet with the residents and school administrators to explain that MERS-CoV is not airborne.
Lee Suy said there is no need to be alarmed of the entry of MERS-CoV in the country. "We don’t want to use the word ‘alarming’, but we have to be conscious of what’s happening within our surroundings."
In any case, the Philippines has stood the test of time in addressing issues on emerging infectious diseases.
“No country can ever claim that they are 100% in addressing any form of emerging infectious diseases… [But for the Philippines], the country is in a better position to address [them] because of what we have experienced before, including SARS, N1H1, and the threat of Ebola,” he said.
He also urged the public not to be too complacent, saying proper monitoring is still paramount.
He advised families to limit the number of welcoming relatives and friends in airports as if there’s a “fiesta.”
“Remember our first threat of MERS-CoV last year. All those who came to fetch were subjected to confinement,” he said.