Patients under watch for new coronavirus in PH now at 133

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 05 2020 04:52 PM

Faculty members wearing masks use thermometers to check the temperature of guardians fetching students amid a health scare over a new virus that has infected thousands since emerging in China, in a Chinese school in Quezon City, Jan. 28, 2020. Eloisa Lopez, Reuters/File

MANILA - The number of patients being observed for possible infection of the new coronavirus has increased to 133, the Department of Health (DOH) said Wednesday.

“We have a cumulative total since the beginning of 133 PUIs [patients under investigation]. Of the 133 PUIs, 115 are admitted and isolated while 16 have been discharged under strict monitoring,” Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo said in a press conference.

PUIs are those who recently traveled to China, where the 2019 Novel Coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD) originated, and show signs of illness such as fever, colds and cough.

Of those being checked, 63 are Filipinos, 54 are Chinese and 16 are of other nationalities. Thirty-two of them had traveled to Wuhan City in China, where the first cases of the new coronavirus were reported.

Bacolod City, meanwhile, said two men are under quarantine in a hospital for having history of travel to areas where cases of the new coronavirus have been recorded.

Dr. Grace Tan, spokesperson of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Acute Respiratory Disease Inter-Agency Task Force, said one of the patients under investigation is a 67-year-old foreigner who had a layover in Taiwan prior to his flight back to the Philippines and Negros Occidental on Jan. 21.

The other PUI is a 40-year-old Filipino who traveled to Hong Kong and returned home on Jan. 27.

Medical Center Chief II Dr. Julius Drilon said they are still waiting for results of the test conducted on two other PUIs who have been quarantined since Feb. 1 and 3.

In Tarlac, 6 PUIs tested negative for the virus, the Tarlac provincial government said in a Facebook post. Gov. Susan Yap said the capitol is undertaking all measures to prevent the spread of the virus 

As of Wednesday, the Philippines has 3 confirmed cases of the virus. The first 2 are a Chinese couple from Wuhan, China. The 44-year-old man died but the 38-year-old woman is recovering and no longer showing signs of illness but remains in hospital. 

Meanwhile, the third case is a 60-year-old woman who was belatedly diagnosed. She was already cured and cleared to return to China when test results arrived confirming that she was infected with the disease.

Contact tracing for the Chinese couple yielded 203 contacts so far. Of that number, 188 are quarantined at home but 15 are showing symptoms of illness. 

While the 14 are already in isolation, DOH is seeking local government and police assistance to bring the last person to the hospital. “He initially refused to be admitted,” Domingo explained.

The DOH is still calling on other passengers of Cebu Pacific flight 5J 241 from Hong Kong to Cebu on Jan. 20 and 21, 2020; Cebgo flight DG6519 from Cebu to Dumaguete on Jan. 21, 2020; and Philippine Airlines flight PR 2542 from Dumaguete to Manila on Jan. 25, 2020 to cooperate with authorities.

The DOH Epidemiology Bureau has also started contact tracing those who interacted with the 3rd confirmed case. These will be those from her Hong Kong to Cebu flight on Jan. 20 and her subsequent flight to Bohol. 

As far as the DOH is concerned, she was no longer infectious during her flight from Bohol to Cebu and then back to China.

As of Wednesday, at least 490 people have died because of the disease while 20,000 are infected, most of them from China.

- with a report from Yasmin Pascual-Dormido, ABS-CBN News