NBI can help trace people in contact with 2 confirmed coronavirus patients - DOJ

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 04 2020 03:11 PM

Personnel at the NAIA Terminal 1 in Parañaque City wear face masks as the country heightens measures to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus from China, Jan. 22, 2020. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) can help trace persons who may have been exposed to 2 Chinese nationals confirmed to have contracted the novel coronavirus, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Tuesday.

Guevarra's statement came a day after Monday's emergency meeting in Malacañang convened by the President with several Cabinet officials.

While the NBI was "not being called to action yet," the agency will be "on standby to support" trace those who came in contact with coronavirus patients, the justice chief said.

"The [Department of Health] says they can still handle the contact tracing but the NBI will be on standby to support," he told reporters through an exchange of messages.

Guevarra clarified that there were no further instructions for the justice department except for the Bureau of Immigration (BI) "to implement the travel ban strictly until further orders."

Two Chinese from Wuhan, China are the only confirmed 2019-nCoV cases in the Philippines so far. One of them, a 44-year-old, died on Saturday due to severe pneumonia -- the first recorded nCoV death outside China.

Authorities are now tracing the people who may have been exposed to the couple, who arrived in Cebu from Hong Kong on Jan. 21 and who went to Dumaguete before flying to Manila. 

Both were admitted to the San Lazaro Hospital on Jan. 25.

The female companion became the first confirmed nCoV case in the country but is now asymptomatic, according to health authorities.

No cure nor vaccine has so far been developed to combat the virus.