Philippines tracing travelers who flew with first novel coronavirus patient


Posted at Jan 31 2020 08:52 AM | Updated as of Jan 31 2020 09:16 AM

Airport personnel monitor a thermal scanner as passengers arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay, Jan. 23, 2020. Eloisa Lopez, Reuters

MANILA - Authorities are looking for flight passengers who came in close contact with the Philippines' first case of a novel coronavirus outbreak from China, the health ministry said Friday. 

The patient, a 38-year-old woman, came from the Chinese central city of Wuhan, where the virus was first detected. From Wuhan, she took flights to Hong Kong, then Cebu and Dumaguete, before arriving in Manila on Jan. 21, said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III. 

For each of these flights, authorities have to trace the passengers who were up to 4 seats away from the patient, he said. 

"Iyong mga tao natin sa surveillane office, nagsasagawa ng contact tracing... And'yan naman ang mga sistema for containment measures," he said. 

(Our personnel at the surveillance office are conducting contact tracing. Our system for containment measures is in place.) 

The woman's boyfriend, who had traveled with her, was already in quarantine, said Duque. 

The patient was only coughing a bit and no longer had fever or any other symptom, which meant her case was "mild", he said. 

Eight in 10 cases of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in China are mild, while the rest are severe, said the health chief. 

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Twenty-three people suspected of carrying the virus were in isolation locally, while 5 others had been discharged, said Duque. 

Another man from China being checked for 2019-nCoV died of pneumonia at a Manila hospital, authorities said Wednesday. 

In China, there were 9,692 cases of infection and the death toll rose to more than 200 as of early Friday, Chinese health authorities said. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared Thursday a global health emergency as the virus spread at least 18 other countries. 

The move will trigger tighter containment and information-sharing guidelines to all countries, but may disappoint Beijing, which had expressed confidence it can beat the "devil" virus. 
With a report from Reuters