MANILA — The Philippines remains free from a fast-spreading coronavirus from China, the health department said Tuesday, as it monitored 27 suspected cases of the respiratory disease.
"Still, there are no confirmed cases of the novel coranavirus (2019nCoV) in the country," Health Secretary Francisco Duque III told reporters.
However, authorities are monitoring 27 potential 2019-nCoV cases across the country, said Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo.
There are no Filipinos under observation and most of those being observed are Chinese, he said.
The pathogen known as 2019nCoV has in a matter of weeks killed more than 100, infected some 2,700 people, and spread across China and to a dozen other countries, including the US, France, and Australia.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), according to the World Health Organization.
Some experts say the new China strain may not be as deadly as SARS, which killed nearly 800 people worldwide during a 2002 to 2003 outbreak that also originated from China.
The 2019-nCoV strain, which can cause a pneumonia-like acute respiratory infection, has infected about 2,700 people and spread in a matter of weeks
Almost all fatalities due to the pathogen are elderly and have "underlying medical conditions" like chronic pulmonary disease, hypertension and cancer, Duque earlier told DZMM.
The public should wash their hands frequently, hydrate well, avoid crowded places and wear face masks to avoid getting sick, authorities earlier said.
The Bureau of Immigration will temporarily stop issuing tourist visas on arrival to Chinese nationals to help ensure the country remained free of the new coronavirus, its head said Tuesday.
With a report from Agence France-Presse