Number of people under investigation for 2019-nCov spikes to 80: DOH

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 03 2020 12:43 PM | Updated as of Feb 03 2020 01:34 PM

Medical workers monitor the Pediatric Infectious Disease Critical Care Unit in San Lazaro Hospital in Manila. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - The number of persons being monitored in the Philippines for possible infection of the new coronavirus has more than doubled to 80, the Department of Health said Monday.

Of this figure, 30 persons have tested negative for the new strain of virus, 2 were confirmed positive, while results for 48 persons remain pending, according to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

Speaking in a news conference, Duque said 67 are admitted and isolated, while 10 others are discharged but are under strict monitoring. The two confirmed cases, one of whom died on Saturday, and the other mortality that tested negative, complete the tally of 80.

Duque attributed the increase in the number of patients being monitored to the agency's improved surveillance system, and the contact tracing of the epidemiology bureau. He also noted the expansion of its criteria to include the entire China in checking the travel history of patients.

One of the two confirmed cases, a 44-year-old Chinese man from Wuhan, died on Saturday--becoming the first reported fatality outside China, where the virus originated. The first confirmed case in the Philippines was reported on January 30, a 38-year-old Chinese woman who was the partner of the first 2019-nCoV fatality in PH.

First 2019-nCoV-related death outside China

Duque said that aside from the 2019-nCoV, the man was also found to be positive for Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenza type b.

"We would say that the severe pneumonia must have been caused by the nCoV because of the clinical and some diagnostics that show similarity between the SARS cov and the nCoV," he said.

Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo, speaking at the same press conference with Duque, that the patient's pneumonia is community-acquired, based on reports.

It was his first time to be tested for 2019-nCoV, Domingo said of the patient.

He said the cremation of the patient's remains is now being arranged as it is being handled to be potentially infectious.

Contact tracing

Epidemiology Bureau Director Ferchito Avelino said they have found 74 people who came in contact with the two patients who were positive for the 2019-nCoV.

“They were given advice on home quarantine. This will involve isolation inside their house. They are not allowed to interact with their families,” he said.

Duque said the woman herself is still being monitored although her condition is stable. She needs to test negative twice before she can be discharged from the hospital in Manila.

The Health Secretary emphasized that what the Philippines has are two imported cases of the novel coronavirus. The Philippines has “zero local transmission” unlike other countries,” he said.

--Report from Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News