DOH: 500 with possible contact with PH's 3 new coronavirus patients known

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 07 2020 02:43 PM | Updated as of Feb 07 2020 05:21 PM

Airport personnel wear face masks as the Philippines heightens measures to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus from China, Jan. 22, 2020. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — Authorities have identified more than 500 people who came in close contact with the Philippines' 3 confirmed cases of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), with some now being monitored for possible infection, the health department said Friday. 

The group that interacted with the first 2 patients -- a man and a woman from the epicenter of the disease in Wuhan, China -- included 379 passengers and crew members from flights that the pair took. 

Another 62 people were from hotels, resorts, a hospital, public vehicles and other areas they visited, said Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo. 

Some 106 people, meanwhile, were traced as those who had contact with the third patient.

Domingo said that while the DOH Epidemiology Bureau has now identified all 441 people that came into contact with the first two patients, 206 have yet to be interviewed because of “erroneous contact information.” 

“Of the contacts reached, 203 were placed on home quarantine, while the 32 contacts exhibiting symptoms were categorized as PUIs (patients under investigation),” he said. 

With 22 people already interviewed and placed on home quarantine, another four people showing symptoms were also categorized as PUIs.

Domingo said they were already working with police and local authorities to find people who interacted with the couple during their visits to Cebu, Dumaguete and Manila.

While the 38-year-old Chinese woman is already recovering from the novel coronavirus, her 44-year-old partner has died.

A third patient, a 60-year-old Chinese woman, had already recovered and left the Philippines by the time the DOH learned that she contracted the virus. Because of this, the Epidemiology Bureau were reaching out to people in Cebu and Bohol who possibly interacted with her. 

“To date, 106 contacts were traced, this includes 90 co-passengers and 16 individuals from hotels and hospitals in contact with the 3rd confirmed case,” Domingo said.

As of Friday, the Philippines has recorded 215 patients probed for possible novel coronavirus infection, including the three confirmed cases so far: the first 2 patients and another 60-year-old woman from Wuhan who tested positive for the virus, said Domingo. 

The pathogen has infected some 31,000 people, mostly in China, in a matter of weeks, said authorities. It has resulted in the deaths of more than 600 people.