MANILA (3rd UPDATE)—The family of a Chinese man who tested positive for the deadly novel coronavirus strain traveled to Manila on Wednesday, Hong Kong authorities said.
In a press conference, Hong Kong Health Minister Sophia Chan confirmed that the patient’s four family members flew from Hong Kong to Manila via Cebu Pacific 5J111, which landed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at 1:20 p.m. Wednesday.
The man remained in Hong Kong.
Charo Logarta Lagamon, director of Cebu Pacific's corporate communications department, told ABS-CBN News that no one on the flight was quarantined.
"We are closely monitoring the spread of the Wuhan virus, and have precautionary measures in place for our flights to and from China. We have been coordinating with the authorities to ensure the safety of our passengers, crew and staff," she said.
"We encourage passengers to seek medical attention should they exhibit flu-like symptoms, including runny nose, cough, sore throat, or fever," she added
Logarta, in a later statement, said that all passengers and the crew aboard in the said flight were screened by the Bureau of Quarantine upon arrival in Manila.
"None of them were held for further observation. Nonetheless, we are trying to coordinate with Hong Kong authorities to verify information in media reports," she said.
As precautionary measure, Logarta advised passengers of the said flight should immediately seek medical attention should they exhibit flu-like symptoms including runny nose, cough, sore throat or fever.
The aircraft was also disinfected following the standard practice for all inbound international flights.
Logarta said that they are closely monitoring the spread of the Wuhan virus, and have precautionary measures in place for their flights.
HONG KONG QUARANTINE
Hong Kong quarantined the 39-year-old man after the city's first preliminary positive result in a test for the new flu-like coronavirus found in an outbreak in central mainland China, authorities said.
The tourist from Wuhan came to Hong Kong on Tuesday via high-speed rail from nearby Shenzhen and was detected having fever at the border.
He was in stable condition in an isolation ward at Princess Margaret Hospital, Health Minister Sophia Chan said.
The outbreak has spread to more Chinese cities including the capital Beijing, Shanghai and Macau, and cases have been reported outside the country's borders, in the United States, South Korea, Thailand and Japan.
Seventeen people in China have died.
"I urge citizens not to go to Hubei province, Wuhan city if not necessary," Chan said in a news conference.
She said the isolated patient came to Hong Kong with four family members, who spent the night at a hotel in the busy Tsim Sha Tsui tourist district, before hopping on a flight to Manila earlier on Wednesday.
His family did not have any symptoms. The government was contacting train passengers who sat near him and they would be put under observation in isolation wards. A hotline was also set up for people worried they might have contracted the virus.
Chan could not immediately confirm local media reports of a second person with similar test results.
The Hospital Authority on Tuesday enhanced laboratory surveillance for pneumonia cases to include patients with travel history to all of mainland China, rather than just Wuhan.
Hong Kong had deployed temperature screening equipment at the airport and the high-speed rail station. Air passengers are required to fill in health declaration forms. Some 500 isolation wards at public hospitals were available, with more ordinary wards to be converted if necessary.
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses named because of crown-like spikes on their surfaces. The viruses cause respiratory illnesses ranging from the common cold to the deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
Manila's airport quarantine office said Wednesday night that based on thermal scanners, "no passenger was detected with high fever on that flight." There was also no advisory or alert from Hong Kong health ministry.
Nine people have died in mainland China while 400 have been affected of the SARS-like virus. Chinese cities Beijing, Shanghai, and Macau have confirmed cases of the virus. Patients who contracted the disease have also been confirmed in the United States, Thailand, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
Several airports across the Asia-Pacific have tightened security measures for travelers, especially from China after authorities said the virus — which has infected some 440 people in Asia's largest economy — could mutate and be transmitted through the respiratory tract. — With reports from Dexter Ganibe, ABS-CBN News and Felix Tam, Reuters