MANILA - The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday said the Chinese woman who became the first confirmed case of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the Philippines is still in the hospital as she remains infected with the virus despite improving conditions.
“'Yung first case natin wala na talaga siyang sakit (Our first case hasn't been sick) for the past week. No fever, no cough, no colds,” Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo said in a press conference.
“However, the latest test that was done last 48 hours was still positive but there are signs na 'yung viral load niya bumababa na (that her viral load is declining).”
Given this, Domingo said, she would need to remain in isolation.
The 38-year-old woman from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak, tested positive for the virus last week and was confined at the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila.
She was confined with her partner, a 44-year-old Chinese man who also showed symptoms. The man later tested positive for novel coronavirus and died, making it the first death of the virus outside China.
The pair had come to the Philippines from Wuhan via Hong Kong before the lockdowns and travel restrictions in virus-hit areas.
The Department of Health is continuing its contact tracing procedure to find people who interacted with them as they arrived in Cebu and went to Dumaguete before reaching Manila.
On Wednesday, the DOH confirmed a third case- a 60-year-old Chinese woman, also from Wuhan, who had sought medical attention for fever and colds but was later discharged after testing negative for the virus.
A test of a sample earlier taken later showed she also had the virus.
As of Wednesday, at least 490 people have died because of the disease while some 20,000 are infected, most of them from China.
The WHO said it does not currently consider the novel coronavirus a pandemic yet even as it has spread from China to at least two dozen countries. The WHO said it is still an epidemic with spillover cases in other countries.
The Philippines has also started repatriating its citizens from China, with the first batch arriving on Saturday at the Clark International Airport. They will undergo mandatory quarantine at Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, Malacanang said. At least 42 Filipinos have requested to be repatriated from Hubei province, the epicenter of the new coronavirus.