Samples taken from a 5-year-old boy admitted in a Cebu hospital yielded negative results for the novel coronavirus, the Department of Health said on Friday.
The confirmatory tests were conducted at Victorian Infectious Disease Reference Laboratory in Melbourne.
“This is indeed very welcome news to ease the Filipinos’ growing concern,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a statement.
“We will continue to monitor the developing situation and ensure mechanisms to contain the threat of the 2019-nCoV.”
The boy, who arrived in Cebu from Wuhan city, China, on January 12, "to make arrangements to study English," exhibited pneumonia-like symptoms with a history of travel from Wuhan, considered ground zero for 2019-nCoV.
The child eventually tested positive for pan-coronavirus, a different illness.
With the development, the DOH then took oropharyngeal (throat region) and serum specimens from the child and sent them to the Melbourne lab to help identify the coronavirus strain.
The DOH said it has activated its emergency response and again advised all travelers with symptoms of fever and cough, and history of travel to Wuhan, where the outbreak of the coronavirus started, to immediately go to any hospital for medical attention.
The department also assured that its health facilities are equipped and prepared to receive suspected cases of the novel coronavirus. Health workers were advised to observe preventive measures and protocols.
“Always practice hand hygiene, observe proper cough etiquette, avoid close contact with people manifesting flu-like symptoms, avoid contact with farm and wild animals, cook food properly, and adopt healthy lifestyles to mount immunity against infections,” Duque said.
The coronavirus has killed 25 people in China and infected more than 800, the Chinese government said on Friday.
- With reports from Raphael Bosano, ABS-CBN News, and Reuters