DOH: Chinese boy in Cebu negative for non-specific coronavirus


Posted at Jan 23 2020 04:38 PM | Updated as of Jan 23 2020 06:14 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - A 5-year-old Chinese boy quarantined in Cebu City for a non-specific coronavirus has been cleared of the strain, the Department of Health (DOH) said Thursday.

"The last sample we had, fortunately, negative na siya for the coronavirus, the non-specific type. We can't say if it's the novel type or whatever coronavirus," said Dr. Van Phillip Baton of the DOH Center for Health Development in Central Visayas.

The boy, who came from Wuhan City, China where the new coronavirus first appeared, also tested negative for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), he added.

"We are still awaiting for another sample to see if it would still be negative," Baton said, adding the boy could then be discharged from the hospital.

Specimen from the patient was sent to specialists in Australia to identify which coronavirus strain he carried. Results will be released during the week.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases, such as MERS-CoV and SARS.

As of Thursday, the child, who arrived in Cebu City on Jan. 12 to study English, has been in stable condition.

"The boy is currently stable with no fever, cough and other signs of symptoms associated with the 2019 novel coronavirus," Baton said.

The child's mother also tested negative for the flu-like virus, which can be transmitted between humans and could mutate. 

"Central Visayas still has no confirmed case of the 2019 novel coronavirus. What we have is the confirmed case of the non-specific pancoronavirus," Baton said.

At least 12 people who have come in contact with the boy when he was brought to a hospital after exhibiting fever, throat irritation and cough are currently being monitored.

They not have shown any signs of sickness, Baton added.

"The exposure was very limited. Hindi gano'n kalaki ang risk niya to transmit (His risk to transmit was not that big)," the health official said, adding that transmission could be done through droplet infection.

To curb the possible spread of the disease, the health department urged the public to maintain good health, wash hands properly and observe proper coughing etiquette.

"If patient is manifesting symptoms, yet walang history of travel to Wuhan but was from China, and there's no reason for confinement, we advise them to stay at home. Just like any infectious diseases na respiratory in nature, we always advise patients, they have to wear mask," Baton said.

The virus, which belongs to the same family of viruses that cause respiratory illnesses ranging from the common cold to the deadly SARS, has killed at least 17 and infected nearly 600 people. 

Carriers of the disease have been reported in the Chinese cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Macau and Hong Kong and in the United States, Thailand, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.