MANILA (UPDATE 2) – The first novel coronavirus-related death outside China was recorded in the Philippines, the World Health Organization's representative in the country said Sunday.
Tagged as the Philippines' second confirmed 2019-nCoV case, a 44-year-old Chinese man, who arrived from Wuhan, China via Hong Kong last Jan. 21, 2020, died on Saturday, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.
"This is the first reported death outside China," Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO Representative in the Philippines, said in a news conference with Duque.
The man was a companion of the 38-year-old Chinese woman who was identified earlier as the Philippines' first confirmed new coronavirus case. She is no longer showing such symptoms as fever and cough, according to Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo.
Duque said the two were admitted for isolation and supportive treatment at a government hospital in Manila.
After being admitted for pneumonia last Jan. 25, the man experienced fever, cough and sore throat, Duque said.
"Over the course of the patient’s admission, he developed severe pneumonia. In his last few days, the patient was stable and showed signs of improvement. However, the condition of the patient deteriorated within the last 24 hours, resulting in his demise," he added.
Abeyasinghe said, "we need to take into mind, this is not a locally acquired case."
"This patient came from the epicenter of this outbreak, Wuhan, China, where there have been very large number of deaths," he added. As of Sunday, China said the death toll from the new respiratory contagion has swelled to 304 amid the infection of several thousand others.
"I would like to emphasize that this is an imported case with no evidence of local transmission," Duque, for his part, said of the second confirmed case.
Authorities are in touch with the Chinese embassy for the cremation of the patient's remains, the health minister said.
"All I ask from the public is heed advisories from officials...refrain from sharing unverified and unvalidated information."
"The new developments warrant a more diligent approach in containing the threats of the 2019-nCoV. The Department of Health is continuously improving and scaling up its public health measures and reminds the public to remain calm and vigilant," Duque said.
Domingo said that as of Saturday, a total of 36 individuals have been considered by the Philippine government as patients under investigation (PUIs), including the two confirmed cases and another one who died but was later found to be negative for 2019-nCoV.
Twenty-three of the patients are currently admitted and isolated, and 10 others have been discharged but still being monitored.
Of the PUIs, 6 and 24 were found negative based on specimen tests conducted in Australia and at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, respectively. Test results for four others from RITM remain pending.
The Philippines on Sunday temporarily prohibited the entry of all foreigners from China, while Filipino citizens and holders of permanent resident visa issued by the government coming from China will undergo a 14-day quarantine upon their arrival in the country.
Several airlines have also either canceled or limited their flights to and from China.