Repeat virus infection possible? Wait for WHO advice, says Health chief

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 28 2020 08:50 AM | Updated as of Feb 28 2020 12:34 PM

Women wearing masks are pictured in a transportation hub in Parañaque, Jan. 30, 2020. Eloisa Lopez, Reuters

MANILA — The public should refrain from drawing conclusions and instead wait for the World Health Organization's take on whether or not novel coronavirus patients who have recovered could catch the infection again, Manila's health chief said Friday.

A woman working as a tour bus guide in Japan tested positive for the coronavirus for a second time, weeks after recovering from the disease, the Osaka prefecture government said on Thursday.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque said the report needs to be validated. "Siguro kailangan lang intindihin maigi ang datos, impormasyon. Baka may kalituhan," he told DZMM.

"Hintayin natin ang WHO. 'Wag tayong gumawa ng sarili nating conclusions, pag-iisip at magkakalat tayo. Wala pong magagawang kabutihan iyan," he added.

(Perhaps the data, information needs to be examined; there could have been some confusion. Let's wait for the WHO and refrain from making and spreading our own conclusions, opinions. That will not result to anything good.)

Duque also noted that a study around 2006 showed that patients who recovered from coronaviruses could develop antibodies that can protect them from getting infected again for 8 to 16 months.

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Japan, home to about 160,000 Filipino workers, had confirmed 186 cases of the novel coronavirus as of Thursday.

Two of 3 Filipinos repatriated from a coronavirus-stricken ship in Japan tested negative for the disease after showing symptoms, while one was awaiting test results, said the health department.

The trio is among some 400 Filipinos from the Diamond Princess cruise ship who are under quarantine in a government facility north of the capital.

An inter-agency task force is also studying a potential travel ban on Japan, based on economic and health risks like the number of its coronavirus cases, its local transmission, and volume of travelers, said Duque.

Manila so far confirmed 3 cases of the disease, including one fatality, all from Wuhan city in central China where the virus was first detected in December.

The Philippines is among 9 countries that contained the disease and tallied no local transmission in the last 2 weeks, said Duque, quoting the WHO.

As of Thursday, authorities were monitoring a total of 64 people locally for potential coronavirus infection, he said.