No need to isolate family of HK coronavirus patient: DOH


Posted at Jan 23 2020 03:25 PM | Updated as of Jan 24 2020 05:33 PM

Personnel at the NAIA Terminal 1 in Parañaque City wear face masks as a precaution, as the country heightens measures to prevent the spread of an undetermined strain of the coronavirus from China. Mark demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - There is no need to isolate four Chinese tourists who were exposed to a person that tested positive for the new coronavirus, a health official said Thursday.

The tourists flew to Manila from Hong Kong on Wednesday and are relatives of a Chinese man who tested positive for the new strain of the coronavirus after traveling from Wuhan, the Chinese city where the outbreak began. 

In a press conference, Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo said the Department of Health (DOH)'s epidemiology bureau has met with the family members and found that none of them are suffering from illnesses.

Earlier, Domingo urged the public to consult a doctor if they have any history of travel to China, particularly to Wuhan, or exposure to people who have the illness as some patients may enter the country healthy and later show signs and symptoms.

The Philippines has started screening passengers arriving at the capital's main airport for fever and flu symptoms, after the new coronavirus was discovered.

The virus has so far killed 17 and infected nearly 600 people.

China said it was halting flights and trains from Thursday out of Wuhan, the city of 11 million people at the center of a deadly SARS-like virus outbreak, as the UN extended emergency talks on the disease.

The central city's special command center against the virus also said that residents should not leave without a special reason and that the measures would be effective from 0200 GMT, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

The move is meant to "resolutely contain the momentum of the epidemic spreading," the center was quoted as saying.

The coronavirus has caused alarm because of its similarity to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.

With hundreds of millions of people travelling across China this week for the Lunar New Year holiday, the National Health Commission also announced measures to contain the disease -- including sterilization and ventilation at airports and bus stations, as well as inside planes and trains.

The illness is mainly transmitted via the respiratory tract and there "is the possibility of viral mutation and further spread of the disease", health commission vice minister Li Bin told a news conference in Beijing.

More than 500 cases have now been reported, with the majority in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province.

-- With a report from Raphael Bosano, ABS-CBN News, Agence France Presse