Measles is more contagious than 2019-nCoV, says DOH
MANILA (UPDATE) - The Philippines on Wednesday is monitoring 23 suspected cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus as 4 others have already tested negative, health officials said.
Four patients were discharged from the hospital after being cleared of the new respiratory virus that is plaguing China, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a press briefing.
The Philippines remains free from the 2019-nCoV that has already claimed at least 132 lives in China and infected nearly 6,000 others.
"Confirmed cases, zero," Duque said.
Health authorities are keeping a watchful eye on 17 cases in the National Capital Region (NCR), 1 in Western Visayas, 1 in Mimaropa, 1 in Eastern Visayas, 2 in Central Visayas and 1 in Davao Region.
Most are foreigners who had traveled to the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the respiratory contagion that started from a market selling illegal wildlife.
As infections have been confirmed in other countries, such as the United States, France and many Asian countries, Duque called on the public to remain calm, but vigilant.
To limit the possible transmission of the flu-like virus, he said the public should practice hand hygiene, observe cough etiquette, avoid contact with farm and wild animals, and cook food properly, among others.
"It's better to be proactive and prepared," he said.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), according to the World Health Organization.
Dr. Chito Avelino, DOH's epidemiology bureau director, said the infection rate for 2019-nCoV ranged from 2 to 4.
"That means that for 1 individual infected, there's a possibility for him to transmit [the virus] to 2 to 3 or 4 uninfected individuals, at close range. The basic principle is close contact," he said.
Compared with other diseases, the new strain of coronavirus is not as contagious, Avelino said.
"Mas nakakahawa ang tigdas (Measles is more infectious)," he said.
According to Duque, the infectiousness rate of measles is 1 person to 18.
At the press briefing, Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo said confirmatory test kits or "primers" ordered by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) have arrived in the country Wednesday.
"They are now setting up the laboratory for this. Once the laboratory is set up within 48 hours, they will be able to start running the test for the 2019 novel coronavirus here in the Philippines," he said.
The RITM sends specimen samples to the Victorian Infectious Disease Reference in Australia to confirm if the patient is infected with 2019-nCoV. The process usually takes 24 hours.
"The subsequent tests will now be done by RITM," Domingo said.
The RITM has 6 pending confirmatory tests in Australia, the results of which are expected Thursday or Friday.