Batangas monitoring 3 suspected MERS-CoV cases

By Arnell Ozaeta, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 20 2014 04:06 PM | Updated as of Apr 21 2014 07:19 PM

BATANGAS -- Three patients presently confined at the Batangas Medical Center (formerly Batangas Regional Hospital) are now under observation for possible Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (MERS-CoV).

According to Dr. Ramoncito Magnaye, medical director of BMC, the three patients have been isolated and are undergoing laboratory tests.

“Hindi pa naman sigurado. We are treating them symptomatically for flu, cough and other symptoms they might have,” Magnaye said.

He refused to divulge the names of the three patients to the media due to an existing patient-doctor confidentiality agreement.

The MERS-CoV is considered a more fatal but less transmissible cousin of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus that spread in Asia in 2003, the Department of Health (DOH) said.

“The usual incubation period is two weeks, but if the lab tests return negative, we can already send them home,” Magnaye added.

The three are among the 400 passengers who shared an Etihad Airways flight with a nurse who was initially believed to have been infected with the virus.

On Saturday, the DOH finally cleared the nurse who was initially tested positive for MERS-CoV when he was in Al Ain City in Abu Dhabi.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona said two news tests by the Philippines' Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) showed the nurse was negative for MERS-CoV.

Ona asked, however, the other passengers of Etihad Airways Flight EY 0424 to have themselves checked.

An ABS-CBN News source from the BMC said the hospital is expecting two more patients to be admitted for laboratory tests.

The DOH said the move is a precautionary measure to ensure none of them are infected.